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Environmental Values

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

Robert Huseby

Environmental Values 19 (2010): 193-210. doi: 10.3197/096327110X12699420220590


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.


Climate change, future people, non-identity problem, person-affecting moral theory, sufficiency

REFERENCES to other articles in Environmental Values:

Can We Harm Future People? Alan Carter

Why Worry About Climate Change? A Research Agenda. Richard S.J. Tol

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