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18 - On the Idea of Obligation to Future Generations

from Part Two - Human Rights Issues

Published online by Cambridge University Press:  05 March 2012

Nirmalya Narayan Chakraborty
Affiliation:
Rabindra Bharati University
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Summary

Until the first quarter of the twentieth century it looked obvious that mankind would continue to exist for all time to come. Development of nuclear weapons compelled man to get worried about the possibility of extinction of the human race. Increase in the population, resulting in environmental pollution and accompanied by limited resources, has been the major cause of the worries human are faced today. Naturally in this context, the question arises whether the present generation has an obligation to future generations so that our sacrifice could ensure the continued existence of the human race, preventing it from future extinction. People have started pondering over this question since there are events that could threaten human survival. Since the existence of future generations in many ways depend on what we do now, the question whether or not we should try to prevent the extinction of mankind is an important issue, not only of pure academic interest but with direct consequences on many contemporary problems as well.

The central question in this discourse seems to be whether we, as the present generation, have any moral obligation and to what extent we have the duty, if we have any duty at all, to the future generation, so that it would be morally incumbent for us to make sacrifices now to bring happy people in the world or to avoid them from being brought to the world.

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Chapter
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Applied Ethics and Human Rights
Conceptual Analysis and Contextual Applications
, pp. 247 - 252
Publisher: Anthem Press
Print publication year: 2010

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