Monday, February 27, 2012

Future people and the circumstances of justice

What is the nature of our relationship to future generations? Since the 1960s, when what has become known as “intergenerational justice” became a topic of interest moral philosophers, this question has produced a lot of perplexity. Future people are nameless, faceless, purely potential people. When we consider the actual people with whom we share the planet, then we find they stand to us in a variety of personal  - friends, lovers, children, employers - and impersonal – fellow citizens, contractees, bearers of rights – relationships. With our contemporaries, we have relationships which may be taken to impose upon us duties of various kinds – the duty of care of a parent, the duty not to harm another’s interests or deprive them of their property and so on – which we either fulfil or not. Depending on how we bear ourselves towards these others, our relationship with them may change – possibly quite radically.