Intergenerational Justice and Personal Identity, a contribution to solving the Non-Identity Problem
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This master thesis takes as a starting point the philosophical research that has been done concerning the question: can the political requirement to endeavour for a sustainable society be based on an account of the rights of future generations? While discussing intergenerational justice and in particular the objection raised to this concept in the form of the Non-Identity Problem (this is the problem that, according to Parfit, there is no moral difference between conserving and depleting natural resources, because the identity of future people is fully contingent upon actions undertaken by current people), I will uncover that certain presuppositions concerning concepts of personal identity are bearing on this discussion, which until now have undergone only little philosophical reflection. I will argue that the Non-Identity Problem necessitates us to view the concepts of intergenerational justice and personal identity in close connection to each other. From its first impression (see above) the urgency to solve the Non-Identity Problem becomes apparent, since it may lead to moral indifference regarding the potential violation of the rights that future people will have in the future. The Non-Identity Problem hampers an unambiguous formulation of the rights of future generations including the obligations that follow from these rights for current generations. It thereby blocks making sufficient progress in the sustainability debate in a time period that scientists increasingly reach a consensus that the answer to the question: is there a problem with human behaviour in relation to the environment? should be clearly affirmative.