The Right to Parent and Duties Concerning Future Generations

Journal of Political Philosophy 24 (1):487-508 (2016)
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Several philosophers argue that individuals have an interest-protecting right to parent; specifically, the interest is in rearing children whom one can parent adequately. If such a right exists it can provide a solution to scepticism about duties of justice concerning distant future generations and bypass the challenge provided by the non-identity problem. Current children - whose identity is independent from environment-affecting decisions of current adults - will have, in due course, a right to parent. Adequate parenting requires resources. We owe duties of justice to current children, including the satisfaction of their interest-protecting rights; therefore we owe them the conditions for rearing children adequately in the future. But to engage in permissible parenting they, too, will need sufficient resources to ensure their own children's future ability to bring up children under adequate conditions. Because this reasoning goes on ad infinitum it entails that each generation of adults owes its contemporary generation of children at least those resources that are necessary for sustaining human life indefinitely at an adequate level of wellbeing.

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Anca Gheaus
Central European University


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