Journal of Applied Philosophy 35 (3):532-548 (2018)

Authors
Tim Mulgan
University of Auckland
Abstract
Our everyday notions of responsibility are often driven by our need to justify ourselves to specific others – especially those we harm, wrong, or otherwise affect. One challenge for contemporary ethics is to extend this interpersonal urgency to our relations with those future people who are harmed or affected by our actions. In this article, I explore our responsibility for climate change by imagining a possible ‘broken future’, damaged by the carbon emissions of previous generations, and then asking what its inhabitants might think of our current behaviour, our moral thinking, and our excuses. In particular, I will focus on a simplified scenario where present people can only avoid a broken future by sacrificing Rawlsian favourable conditions. Suppose we refuse to avoid a broken future, on the grounds that we cannot be expected to make such great sacrifices. If the broken future lacks favourable conditions, will its inhabitants accept our excuses? Will they hold us responsible for things we regard as excusable? If so, should we be guided by their judgements or by our own?
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DOI 10.1111/japp.12222
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How Should Utilitarians Think About the Future?Tim Mulgan - 2017 - Canadian Journal of Philosophy 47 (2-3):290-312.
Corporate Agency and Possible Futures.Tim Mulgan - 2018 - Journal of Business Ethics 154 (4):901-916.
Robust Individual Responsibility for Climate Harms.Gianfranco Pellegrino - 2018 - Ethical Theory and Moral Practice 21 (4):811-823.

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