Intergenerational Justice

Systematic discussions of intergenerational justice are a relatively recent feature of Western moral philosophy, although documents from other cultures contain codified considerations of what is due to future generations—as in the Iroquois constitution, which dates from the 12th century, and its “seven generation thinking.” The increasing attention paid by industrialized societies to the problem of determining what we owe to the future derives largely from increasing interest in ecological concerns, resource depletion, and technological risk. In the 1960s, the relationship between economic and population growth, the exploitation of natural resources, and pollution energized debates that have contributed to a growing body of scholarship. Books from authors such as Robert Jungk (1952), Rachel Carson (2002, 1962), and Paul Ehrlich (1995, 1968) led to increased public discussion ...

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