Climate Change and Justice between Nonoverlapping Generations

Global Justice : Theory Practice Rhetoric 8 (2) (2015)
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Abstract

It is becoming less and less controversial that we ought to aggressively combat climate change. One main reason for doing so is concern for future generations, as it is they who will be the most seriously affected by it. Surprisingly, none of the more prominent deontological theories of intergenerational justice can explain why it is wrong for the present generation to do very little to stop worsening the problem. This paper discusses three such theories, namely indirect reciprocity, common ownership of the earth and human rights. It shows that while indirect reciprocity and common ownership are both too undemanding, the human rights approach misunderstands the nature of our intergenerational relationships, thereby capturing either too much or too little about what is problematic about climate change. The paper finally proposes a way to think about intergenerational justice that avoids the pitfalls of the traditional theories and can explain what is wrong with perpetuating climate change.

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Anja Karnein
State University of New York at Binghamton

Citations of this work

What’s Wrong with the Presentist Bias? On the Threat of Intergenerational Domination.Anja Karnein - forthcoming - Critical Review of International Social and Political Philosophy:1-22.

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