Non-reciprocal responsibilities and the banquet of the kingdom

Journal of Global Ethics 5 (1):33 – 42 (2009)
Granted the far-flung impacts of humanity on the future and the biosphere, Hans Jonas has rightly called for our responsibilities to be reconceptualised, and where responsibilities are non-reciprocal Chris Groves has put forward a model of the ethics of care to underpin them. In view, however, of Derek Parfit's work on responsibilities with regard to the possible but unidentifiable people of alternative possible futures, the author suggests that an ethical model grounded in relations, while helpful, is insufficient with regard to these impersonal responsibilities, and is not sufficiently strengthened by resorting to 'constitutive value'. To meet the need for further models, he first presents two familiar ones (those of bequests or legacies and of stewardship or trusteeship), and then a new model appropriate for responsibilities towards unidentifiable parties, based on hospitality and generosity, and Jesus' parable of the great banquet as in Luke 14. This model also has its shortcomings, but could, alongside the others, assist people to take non-reciprocal responsibilities seriously.
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DOI 10.1080/17449620902765294
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