Moral obligations towards future generations in African thought

Journal of Global Ethics 8 (2-3):179-191 (2012)
Given the importance of being able to account for moral obligations towards future generations, especially in the light of the problem of global climate change, I argue that there are under-appreciated notions in African thought that are able to significantly contribute to the on-going discourse with respect to inter-generational moral obligations. I identify two related African notions, both springing from the prominent belief that ancestors who have died ? but continue to have a presence ? are entitled to respect, which upon secular refinement are promising in terms of grounding a claim that we do have moral obligations to future generations. These conceptions are that the environment is a communal resource, shared across generations, and that the present generation should express gratitude to its predecessors for preserving the environment on its behalf, by emulating its predecessors and preserving the environment for future generations. I argue that these two conceptions present plausible grounds for thinking that we have moral obligations to posterity, partly because they go some way towards overcoming some of the theoretical concerns generally associated with the notion of moral obligations towards unidentifiable, contingent future persons
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References found in this work BETA
Claudia Card (1988). Gratitude and Obligation. American Philosophical Quarterly 25 (2):115 - 127.
Thaddeus Metz (2007). Toward an African Moral Theory. Journal of Political Philosophy 15 (3):321–341.

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