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Intergenerational Justice$
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Axel Gosseries and Lukas H. Meyer

Print publication date: 2009

Print ISBN-13: 9780199282951

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: September 2009

DOI: 10.1093/acprof:oso/9780199282951.001.0001

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What Motivates Us to Care for the (Distant) Future?

What Motivates Us to Care for the (Distant) Future?

(p.273) 10 What Motivates Us to Care for the (Distant) Future?
Intergenerational Justice

Dieter Birnbacher

Oxford University Press

Recognising moral responsibility in the abstract is generally not causally sufficient for complying with it in relevant situations, not even in the absence of strong conflicting motives. In the case of responsibility towards future generations this gap widens, for many reasons: prognostic uncertainty, anonymity of ‘moral patients’, lack of reciprocity, and sheer temporal distance. The chapter discusses how far these deficiencies in direct motivation to responsibility to future generations can be compensated by indirect motivations such as those postulated by the ‘chain-of-love’ model, by community ties, and by the wish to preserve what one values. The chapter also considers the role institutions might play in the channelling of indirect motivations and in internal and external self-binding, such as constitutional and other legal norms and the setting up of national and supranational councils capable of correcting the short term orientation of legislative bodies.

Keywords:   future generations, moral motivation, responsibility, indirect motivation, self-binding

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