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Person-Affecting Moral Theory, Non-Identity and Future People

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Many of our actions will affect the welfare of future people. For instance, continued emissions of greenhouse gases (GHG) may lead to future environmental degradation, which will negatively affect people's lives. If we continue GHG-emissions, are we harming future people? In light of the non-identity problem, apparently, we are not. This article assesses three recent attempts (by Carter, Page and Kumar) at grounding concern for future generations in person-affecting moral theory. Although these attempts are promising, the conclusion is that none is completely successful. It seems, then, that we have reason to incorporate a limited measure of consequentialism into person-affecting morality. More precisely, I suggest that we should adopt a version of telic sufficientarianism.
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Keywords: climate change; future people; non-identity problem; person-affecting moral theory; sufficiency

Document Type: Research Article

Publication date: 2010-05-01

More about this publication?
  • Environmental Values is an international peer-reviewed journal that brings together contributions from philosophy, economics, politics, sociology, geography, anthropology, ecology and other disciplines, which relate to the present and future environment of human beings and other species. In doing so we aim to clarify the relationship between practical policy issues and more fundamental underlying principles or assumptions.

    Environmental Values has a Journal Impact Factor (2016) of 1.279.
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