Can Contemporary Man be held responsible for future generations? Is it not too far-fetched? By: Michele Pace Bonello.
In contemporary ethical discussions about the impact of modern technology and its potential long-range consequences, one particular criterion is gaining more and more prominence. This criterion concerns the extent to which present activity is seen to affect future generations.
During the last few decades, the world has began to understand the importance of the repercussions that the actions committed today echo into the future and have effect on future generations. Two main factors underline the contemporary ethical sensibility for future generations. First, it is now evident that that technological power has altered the nature of human activity. Whereas previously human activity vas viewed as having a small effective range, modern technology has reshaped this traditional view. Modern technology has given us an unprecedented power, to influence the lives not only of those who are alive today but of those still to be conceived.
Some argue that because they do not exist yet future generations have no rights, however if we take a utilitarian approach we can conclude that because future generations outnumber present ones they deserve all the respect due. If we consider that future generations outnumber us then it means that respecting them and granting them a safe future would bring the maximum happiness to the greatest number of people. So it is the right thing to do.
John Rawls has a theory about justice as fairness, he states that all generations have three rights: a right to an appropriate rate of capitol saving, a right to the conservation of natural resources and the natural environment, and a right to a reasonable genetic policy. The principles of the theory are that future generations have rights just like living people do.
A.N.Whitehead states that because we are always in a state of becoming and because as the past has had repercussions on the present, so will the present effect the future, because we understand that time is a continuum, and that it travels in a straight line we know that our actions have repercussions on the future, and on future life.
A guardian must be appointed to defend the rights of future generations, the guardian is a person, or group of people who may act with an organisation such as NATO to ensure that the rights of future generations are respected, because they are helpless, (they do not even exist yet) they need a guardian to protect their heritage as human beings. This is why genetic experimentation, high pollution or other factors that could alter permanently the heritage of future humans is wrong. We should care about our planet so that it may be a worthy place to live in for those who come after us.