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Environmental Values

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Environmental Values

Possible Persons and the Problems of Posterity

William Grey

Environmental Values 5(1996): 161-179. doi: 10.3197/096327196776679366

The moral status of future persons is problematic. It is often claimed that we should take the interests of the indefinite unborn very seriously, because they have a right to a decent life. It is also claimed (often by the same people) that we should allow unrestricted access to abortion, because the indefinite unborn have no rights. In this paper I argue that these intuitions are not in fact inconsistent. The aim is to provide an account of trans-temporal concern which resolves the prima facie inconsistency between commonly held intuitions about our obligations to future persons. I argue that our intuitions can be reconciled provided that we explicate obligations to the future in terms of impersonal principles subject to retroactive person-affecting constraints.

KEYWORDS: Future persons, duty to posterity, Parfit

CITATIONS in other Environmental Values articles:

Environmental Risks, Uncertainty and Intergenerational Ethics. Kristian Skagen Ekeli

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