Obligations To Future Generations Essay

1937 words - 8 pages

In this paper I will be discussing on whether or not current generations have any obligation(s) towards future generations. I will reason for why they do have certain obligations and responsibilities towards future generations in so much as preserving the environment for them and providing a sustainable future for their wellbeing. At first I am going to introduce a moral theory that will aid in explaining my topic from its point of view and objecting about it. Then I will propose certain objections to my position and respond to them accordingly, as well as an argument for my position. Finally I will end with briefly stating what I have done in the paper.
Here I will be introducing the moral theory. Utilitarianism is a major moral theory in normative ethics written by John Stuart Mill. Mill bases his theory on the idea of utility, or the Greatest-Happiness Principle, which states that our actions are regarded as right so far as they increase the “collective” happiness of the world, and wrong if they decrease the “collective” happiness of the world. In general, Mill’s utilitarian theory is an impartial one since it does not regard a person’s happiness on his own; rather it focuses on the happiness of all individuals collectively. He believes that people do not have any other desires other than pleasure and all our actions lead to an end we desire (happiness). Mill describes happiness by means of pleasure and the absence of pain. So all our actions should be to maximize happiness or pleasure, and minimize pain as much as possible. Such a moral theory is a consequentialist theory since it determines whether an act is good or bad from its consequences. For example if you were to buy your friends some ice cream on a sizzling hot day, you would increase the total happiness since your buying of the ice cream made your friends happy and ultimately gave them some pleasure. However, if you were to go around wrecking people cars you are surely to anger the owners of those cars and so would have decreased the collective happiness since you decreased those people’s pleasure or increased their pain. Mill also divides pleasures in two categories, higher pleasures and lower pleasures. He defines lower pleasures as those pertaining to the body or sensual pleasures such as sex, food, drink, sleep…and such, while higher pleasure are those related to intellectual beings as ourselves such as achievement, understanding, intelligence, curiosity etc. He also clarifies on the idea of quantity versus quality by saying that no matter how plentiful of a lower pleasure one gets, it will not amount to a higher pleasure. Mill suggests that you can distinguish the difference between higher and lower pleasures by coming across someone who has experienced both and asking them which one they prefer over the other.
Now I will be discussing the objections from Utilitarianism against having obligations towards the future generations. First of all, from a utilitarian perspective, all...

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