February 06, 2009

How much must we worry about future generations?

We place more weight on the present than on the future, and more weight on ourselves than on others. We may say that we worry about future generations, but our actions - how we invest our time and money, for example - indicate that we do not. Here is an argument for not worrying (from Jeffrey Krautkraemer):
If technological progress enables the future to be much better off than the present, then there [is] less need for greater weight being placed on the very long run.
Past generations did well in not worrying much about us.

1 comment:

  1. Good Point! As I recall, John Rawls (A Theory of Justice)has an interesting take on the "Problem of Future Generations." The central issue is how far into the future might our obligations extend? Rawls limits it to the next generation because we have a general idea of what our kids' interests might be and because we'd be more likely to empathize with them. (unlike faceless, abstract,distant generations that might never exist). If every generation were to accept this obligation, the distant future would be OK. FREEDOM'S PHILOSOPHER