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VulnerabilityNew Essays in Ethics and Feminist Philosophy$
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Catriona Mackenzie, Wendy Rogers, and Susan Dodds

Print publication date: 2013

Print ISBN-13: 9780199316649

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: January 2014

DOI: 10.1093/acprof:oso/9780199316649.001.0001

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Being in Time

Being in Time

Ethics and Temporal Vulnerability

Chapter:
(p.162) 6 Being in Time
Source:
Vulnerability
Author(s):

Janna Thompson

Publisher:
Oxford University Press
DOI:10.1093/acprof:oso/9780199316649.003.0007

Our temporal position gives us power over past and future generations. An ethics of vulnerability ought to include vulnerabilities that arise from temporal position, but how should temporal vulnerability be understood? If the vulnerability of past and future generations comes from their position in time then we run into the problem of explaining how people who no longer exist or beings who do not yet have an identity can be vulnerable to harm. This essay shows how a diachronic view that focuses on intergenerational relationships and dependencies can provide a better way of understanding temporal vulnerability, by requiring us to reflect on what each generation owes to its predecessors and successors. The essay argues that a contractual approach to these intergenerational obligations is not only consistent with an ethics of vulnerability but provides the best way of taking temporal vulnerabilities into account.

Keywords:   vulnerability, intergenerational justice, dependency, social contract theory

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