Nuclear energy and obligations to the future

Inquiry 21 (1-4):133 – 179 (1978)
Abstract
The paper considers the morality of nuclear energy development as it concerns future people, especially the creation of highly toxic nuclear wastes requiring long?term storage. On the basis of an example with many parallel moral features it is argued that the imposition of such costs and risks on the future is morally unacceptable. The paper goes on to examine in detail possible ways of escaping this conclusion, especially the escape route of denying that moral obligations of the appropriate type apply to future people. The bulk of the paper comprises discussion of this philosophical issue, including many arguments against assigning obligations to the future drawn both from analyses of obligation and from features of the future such as uncertainty and indeterminacy. A further escape through appeal to moral conflict is also considered, and in particular two conflict arguments, the Poverty and Lights?going?out arguments are briefly discussed. Both these escape routes are rejected and it is concluded that if the same standards of behaviour are applied to the future as to the present, nuclear energy development is morally unacceptable
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Robert Elliot (1985). Critical Notices. Australasian Journal of Philosophy 63 (4):499 – 509.
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