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Thread: An Obligation to Future Generations?

  1. #1 An Obligation to Future Generations? 
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    An Obligation to Future Generations?

    We might consider the question, ‘Do we have an obligation to future generations?’ in terms of the liberalism/communitarianism debate – and in doing so contrast the interests of the individual rights holder with those of a community extended to include future generations. In such a debate the latter is clearly the weaker position – for the concept of community is contingent upon the concept of the individual; in that communities are necessarily made up of individuals, whereas the reverse is not necessary. Further, community is a somewhat ephemeral concept at the best of times, and it’s questionable what obligations individuals owe common definitions of the idea, let alone one stretched to include the presently absent.

    Thus, if we argue for an obligation to future generations in these terms we find ourselves on the wrong side of such concepts as freedom and choice, pleading with the individual to honor the concept of community on ethical grounds, against the interests of the individual rights holder. This makes it a very difficult argument – even while our conscience screams at us from the sidelines, but there is a basis of analysis that considerably strengthens the case for an obligation to future generations – though some re-conceptualization of the question is necessary.

    A scientifically valid conception of reality, and therefore an evolutionary conception of the human being recommends itself as a basis of analysis in that it is supported by vast amounts of corroborating evidence; which in terms of truth claims is slightly weaker than empirical proof – but then 4 billion years is a long time to wait for the result of an experiment. An evolutionary conception of the human being is more than philosophical conjecture or political ideology however, and describes in scientifically valid terms the relationship between the individual organism and the species.

    Both liberalism and communitarianism cast the presently existing generation as the sole locus of meaning, and rightful judge of what matters and why – but an evolutionary understanding of the human being refutes this. Previous generations struggled to survive and breed, accumulating the capacities necessary to form societies and develop systems of communicating and recording information. Thus, what we are and what we know is not our doing – but the product of the evolutionary struggle of previous generations.

    Personally, I do not feel in the slightest diminished by acknowledging that evolutionary disposition massively outranks personal development on any fair list of my virtues, just as an argument I make is not diminished by correctly referencing the ideas of great philosophers and scientists of previous generations whose wisdom and knowledge is employed.

    That so, it is only by denying a scientifically valid conception of the human being we can assert the rights of the individual, laying sole claim to what we are and what we know, as if by sending an e-mail one were taking credit for the invention of the computer. By rights, we don’t even own the language in which the e-mail is written, but merely the form of words used and the meaning they convey – or to decipher the analogy, we own nothing but the responsibility for our actions.

    An understanding of ourselves as an evolved and evolving species includes past, present and future generations in our concept of self – philosophically prior to concepts of individual and community. As an evolved and evolving species, it’s difficult to argue that any generation has the right to squander the product of 4 billion years of evolutionary struggle in a self-serving hedonistic splurge – breaking the chain of life and drawing a halt to evolutionary development. Therefore our obligation is not to future generations per se, but to the true nature of our being encompassing past, present and future generations of the species to which we belong.

    Whilst these conjectures are directly critical of liberalism, and come down on the communitarian side of this debate, communitarianism – insofar as the term might be employed, is equally undermined. As an ethical and political ideology communitarianism is only slightly less ephemeral than the concept of community itself – but the common thread running through the works of McIntyre, Taylor, Sandel and Waltzer is an emphasis on the psycho-social and ethical importance of community.

    A scientific conception of reality, and therefore an evolutionary conception of human beings denies the fundamental significance of definitions of community following from race, religion or nationhood. Scientifically conceived, humankind is a single species occupying a single planet, and true to our true nature, with a common interest in the continued existence and development of the species. Definitions of community following from race, religion and nationhood are scientifically unfounded and divisive, and employed as a basis for political deliberations stand in the way of scientifically possible solutions to extinction threats from the energy crisis, climate change, over-population and environmental degradation.

    Therefore, despite the communitarian critique of liberalism – it’s unlikely that communitarianism could make good on the obligation to future generations it argues that liberalism, for it’s emphasis on individual rights is unable to honor. Communitarian ideas uphold concepts that are psycho-socially destructive, in that they divide the human species at a deep and unreasonable level that does not allow for recognition of the true nature of our being, and ethically defunct in that this does not allow for the continued existence of the species. Only by wholly accepting a scientific conception of ourselves and the reality we inhabit can we make good on an obligation to future generations, past generations, our present selves and above all, encompassing all these – the human species.


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    Administrator KALSTER's Avatar
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    True, but how do you get a politician to listen to this and understand it properly? The only way, I think is through the people voicing their opinion regularly and loudly. How do you get the people to realize the situation? With popular media.


    Disclaimer: I do not declare myself to be an expert on ANY subject. If I state something as fact that is obviously wrong, please don't hesitate to correct me. I welcome such corrections in an attempt to be as truthful and accurate as possible.

    "Gullibility kills" - Carl Sagan
    "All people know the same truth. Our lives consist of how we chose to distort it." - Harry Block
    "It is the mark of an educated mind to be able to entertain a thought without accepting it." - Aristotle
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  4. #3 make em laugh! 
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    ‘So, you’re going to become extinct!

    This leaflet is here to help you decide what kind of extinction you want.

    Some of the universally popular choices are:

    • Running out of fossil fuels.
    • Climate change.
    • Overpopulation.
    • Environmental degradation.

    Inability to make decisions is common to doomed species – so if you can’t make up your mind what exactly should snuff out the light of your intellect forever, don’t worry – elements of each can be factored in to your pre-extinction experience to help you decide.

    • Are you a divided species, armed to the teeth with nuclear weapons and running out of fossil fuels? Are your societies technologically dependent on oil? Then the all out war for access to oil reserves, culminating in a nuclear Armageddon is for you!

    Quick and easy, nothing says betrayal of your being like an Oil Armageddon scenario. Be the first to hit the big red button for your chance to win a place in the official history of the universe!

    • Sure you want to die out – but not sure you want to take the blame? Nothing is more difficult to pin down than the causes of climate change. Against a background of dramatic weather events, see your species - starving, strip every green and living thing from the face of the earth.

    Extinction from climate change may not win you any awards, but leaves a gloriously bitter aftertaste in the mouths of the last generation. Hone your self-loathing until it can flay the living flesh from your bones. Choose climate change today!

    • Are you a virile species with little or no sense of self-control? Do you make love not war? Have you always valued quantity over quality? Then why not breed yourself into non-existence?

    This attractive package deal combines aspects of resource abuse, climate change and environmental degradation as civilization breaks down under the sheer weight of numbers. Win a place in the history books by becoming the most populous planet in the universe. This utilitarian nightmare offers the greatest horror for the greatest number – when hey baby, you just have to get it on!

    • Do you think of yourselves as apart from the biology of your planet? Do you think of the natural world as a resource to be freely exploited? Would the oceans be better if they were just slightly pine scented? Then environmental degradation is for you!

    The Dead Planet Arts Council will present the prestigious Plastic-Planet Award for most artificial, sterile environment shortly before the end of time. To qualify, there must be no wilderness left anywhere on the surface and the oceans should be entirely free of life!

    Are you still here? What are you waiting for? With all these attractive extinction options it’s a wonder you made it to the end of the leaflet. Have you still not made up your mind? Well here’s the beauty – you don’t have to. Just carry on as you are and an appropriate extinction will be delivered FREE!
    Before you go, might we suggest you give some thought to a memorial statuette to your failing species? Pick up our leaflet ‘Expressions of Extinction’ – now, before it’s too late!’
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    Would the oceans be better if they were just slightly pine scented?


    No shit, man. I, and most of the people on this forum know this. The question is HOW to change it!
    Disclaimer: I do not declare myself to be an expert on ANY subject. If I state something as fact that is obviously wrong, please don't hesitate to correct me. I welcome such corrections in an attempt to be as truthful and accurate as possible.

    "Gullibility kills" - Carl Sagan
    "All people know the same truth. Our lives consist of how we chose to distort it." - Harry Block
    "It is the mark of an educated mind to be able to entertain a thought without accepting it." - Aristotle
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  6. #5  
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    We do have an obligation to future generations, the problem is that the government and many corrupt parts of it don't really give a damn as long as they get money and more money, even if it means exploiting us. We persoanlly without being able to strike or rebel, rather protest against choice the government made, the world probably would be in ruins.

    We still need to keep making an effort, because no one is going to stand up to these forces because they'll be taken out, it's that simple. We have to rise from our places together and all at once, if we stopped doing our jobs and say swapped food for electric without involving the goverment and fixed our own roads, did our own mainetence and swapped those goods and services for likewise the governemt would collapse, they would assume all of the power and there would be none for them to actually have so they would feel what its like for us everyday. Money is the problem. It always has been and it always will be and the glue that keeps it being used is not common sense, not equality, its simple, greed. Without greed this world would be happy, but of course we'll always have greed on this world.

    The only things we can do is therefore make small changes to change the world and who knows, maybe form some sort of commitee that watches over and protects democracy to endure that everyone has their fair share, because at the moment especially in England, political correctness has gone mad, mny Englanders are critisced for doing things the way they do them, its not far off being dictatorial, currently its a nanny state and that is thanks to Labour, I say we give the Lib Dems a chance for once, we don't know if they are any different from Labour or the tories but theres only one way to find out.
    "If you wish to make an apple pie from scratch, you must first invent the universe". - Carl Sagan
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  7. #6  
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    It’s not difficult to identify a tendency to do what’s right in human behavior. Human beings are basically good – despite all the bad things that happen. One can argue that good things happen at the cost of the bad – and try to reckon the balance morally, or ask whether we might have better. The honest and unqualified acceptance of a scientific conception of reality is first and foremost a rational proposition, but because a tendency to goodness has a rational basis, so honesty to valid knowledge will be socially, politically, economically and psychologically beneficial.
    It will happen – religion, nation and capitalism will be put aside as it becomes obvious they stand in the way of scientifically possible solutions to the energy crisis, climate change, over-population and environmental degradation – because these very problems will force the decision.
    The inconvenience will be temporary – a life-time or two and conditions on earth will be transformed, and we will survive to father an inconceivably amazing civilization. It requires we give more of ourselves than any previous generation, but that’s perfectly in keeping with the enormity of the legacy it will create. It’s nothing we shouldn’t be – a consciousness alive in the universe, aware of itself and reality, and it’s within reach, this evolutionary leap. All we have to do is accept and honor scientifically valid knowledge.
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  8. #7  
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    Alternatively....

    Religion confounds reason – and so it’s not possible to advance a reasoned and reasonable case for science and expect it to prevail. Science provides answers to more or less the same questions man asked himself to come up with the concept of God: nature of existence, reality, design in the natural world and so on, and yet the God squad is on the march while science is ever more on the back foot. Science has surrounded us with technological miracles – demonstrating its truth-value a thousand fold, where religion has given us little else but misery – and yet religion prospers, protected by law, while science is disrespected and abused.
    Not until scientists burn Churches, Mosques and Synagogues to the ground, and the corpses of the faithful litter the streets will people come to love science as much as they do the God, in whose name such miseries are so regularly perpetrated.
    It’s basic PR – it’s about impact. It’s about proving the worth of the idea in blood spilt. That scares people, and fear grips people at a very fundamental level. Science may lend itself to terror, but doesn’t inflict terror in its own name – and that’s why it’s so ineffectual. In psychological terms, it’s the Helsinki Syndrome – people identify with those that abuse them, so if science wants to prevail it had best stop providing answers and start devising tortures.
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  9. #8  
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    I don't mean to derail, but... guests can post???
    Whence comes this logic: no evidence = false?

    http://www.atheistthinktank.net/thinktank/index.php

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  10. #9  
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    Quote Originally Posted by scientstphilosophertheist
    I don't mean to derail, but... guests can post???
    He can also paste.
    Eat Dolphin, save the Tuna!!!!
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