A Deontological Approach to Future Consequences

In Stephen M. Gardiner (ed.), The Oxford Handbook of Intergenerational Ethics. Oxford University Press (2021)
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Abstract

This chapter defends a deontological approach to both the non-identity problem and what is referred to as the “inconsequentiality problem.” Both problems arise in cases where, although the actions of presently living people appear to have harmful consequences for future people, it is difficult to explain why there are moral reasons against such actions. The deontological response to both problems appeals to a distinction between causal and non-causal consequences. By acknowledging the moral importance of such a distinction, deontologists can vindicate the judgment that, collectively and individually, we have harm-based reasons against bringing about bad consequences for future people.

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Molly Gardner
University of Florida

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