Our Obligations To Future Generations Essay

1135 words - 5 pages

“It is wrong always, everywhere, and for everyone, to believe anything upon insufficient evidence.”
(Clifford 1877: 346)

The notion of possible preventative actions from man-made catastrophes drives people to believe that we need to take obligations in creating a better life for future generations. Despite the high possibility of present-day people to prevent future people to experience any suffering, I shall argue that future generations—who have neither reciprocal interactions with this generation nor power to influence our well-being—do not own the rights upon obligation from present people. I contend that it is impossible for people from this generation to have obligations to future generation.
In the first place, obligations is a socially-constructed concept, which develops by reciprocal relations among members of a community. Thereby, it is not a naturally-given concept. Obligation is constructed gradually among people in a community; who share daily interaction, cultural interaction, and moral similarity (de-Shalit 1995: 22). The intense interactions—usually involving common experience, history and value—generate a sense of belonging among the people. That sense of belonging constructs a reciprocal relation, gradually shaping the ‘take and give’ connection, which is later defined as ‘obligation’ and ‘right’.

Obligations that one holds later define his or her identity in relation to the community he or she belongs to. Drawing the link between identity and community, strengthen the argument that we do not have obligation to future people; simply because our identity shaped by personal encounter to society in the real world —a place where future generations not or not yet belong to.

A person is conceived as bound by social connections and relationships, and, among other things, her personality is actually defined by obligations she has.
(de-Shalit 1995:15)
Generally speaking, ‘obligation’ is chiefly followed by ‘right’. A man has to work to get their right of income; a student has to pay tuition fee to get the right for education; and a noble prize winner must first have made a significant contribution to the society before he or she gets the award. It is commonly accepted that one cannot exercise his rights, without first fulfilling his or her obligations. Future people cannot possibly demand their rights from present-day people, since both sides do not have room for interactions; they cannot nourish common sense of belonging with people of this day . It is, then, impossible for them to have reciprocal relations, much less to share any kind of ‘rights’ and ‘obligation’ interactions with present-day people.
In the second place, it is important for us to notice that future people are so much less powerful compare to actual people. This position is significant as the condition of obligation predominantly lies either upon a mutual or serving relationship. The first one has been explained before, while the latter has to be...

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