The Community, the Nation, and Obligations to Future Generations

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Prima facie one’s obligations to the nation and to future generations might clash because of the tension between the particular, the concrete, and the contemporary versus the universal, the abstract, and the future-oriented. However, the nation is and should be regarded as an intergenerational community; this mode of thinking, called here “thinking like a nation,” yields concrete obligations to the not yet born, based in current persons and their strong belief that the nation constitutes their self, a self that transcends into the future. According to the transgenerational theory which is based on the nation, depleting resources or creating severe climate change harms contemporaries who regard the transgenerational community of the nation as what constitutes their self. However, some reasons why one should be cautious about thinking like a nation, especially when this becomes a chauvinistic attitude, are noted.
Original languageAmerican English
Title of host publicationThe Oxford Handbook of Intergenerational Ethics
EditorsStephen M. Gardiner
PublisherOxford University Press
ISBN (Print)9780190881931, 9780190881962
StatePublished - 2021

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