Beyond the Earth Charter

Environmental Ethics 29 (4):359-367 (2007)
The Earth Charter is largely a wholesome embodiment of a commendable and globally applicable ecological ethic. But it fails to treat responsibilities towardfuture generations with sufficient clarity, presenting these generations as comparable to present and past generations, whose members are identifiable, whenin fact most future people are of unknown identity, and when the very existence of most of them depends on current actions. It can be claimed that we still haveobligations with regard to whoever there will be whom we could affect, and in addition, all the possible people of the future whom we could affect have moralstanding, as well as corresponding members of other species. These obligations clash with the person-affecting principle, which considerably restricts suchobligations and the scope of moral standing at the same time. Finally, there are implications for sustainability, at least with regard to sustainable levels ofpopulation and with regard to global warming, and thus a need for further clarification of the content of responsibilities toward future generations
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DOI 10.5840/enviroethics200729439
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