Pushing the Limit: Theology and Responsibility to Future Generations

Studies in Christian Ethics 16 (2):36-51 (2003)
The question of responsibility to future generations is a distinctively modern ethical problem, which exposes the limits of many modern ethical frameworks. I argue for the theological importance of this ‘limit’, and of the question of responsibility to future generations, drawing on the ultimate/penultimate conceptuality of Dietrich Bonhoeffer’s Ethics. Responsibility to future generations calls for detailed attention to a given situation, in the light of its openness to a future not within our control; and action for the sake of future generations requires a suspension of one’s own judgement on that action. Christian ethics can take responsibility to future generations seriously while (and indeed through) maintaining a critique of attempts to orient action towards an innerworldly future utopia
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DOI 10.1177/095394680301600203
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