The Rights of Future People

Journal of Applied Philosophy 6 (2):159-170 (1989)
Abstract
It has been argued by some that the present non-existence of future persons entails that whatever obligations we have towards them are not based on rights which they have or might come to have. This view is refuted. It is argued that the present non-existence of future persons is no impediment to the attribution of rights to them. It is also argued that, even if the present non-existence of future persons were an impediment to the attribution of rights to them, the rights they will have when they come into existence constitute a constraint on present actions. Both arguments build on a suggestion of Joel Feinberg's. Next, three arguments are considered which, while they do not highlight the non-existence issue, are related to it. The view that the causal dependence, of (some) future people on present policies, erodes or weakens the claim that rights considerations should constrain our present actions concerning them, is considered and rejected. The view that future people can only have rights to what is available at the time at which these people come into existence is considered and rejected. So too is the view that the attribution of rights to future people involves, in virtue of resource scarcity, an unacceptable arbitrariness
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References found in this work BETA
John Rawls (1988). The Priority of Right and Ideas of the Good. Philosophy and Public Affairs 17 (4):251-276.
Citations of this work BETA
Derek Bell (2011). Does Anthropogenic Climate Change Violate Human Rights? Critical Review of International Social and Political Philosophy 14 (2):99-124.
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