Climate Change and Future Generations

Project Details


What should the current generation do about climate change when our decisions do not only affect how future generations will live, but also who and how many people will exist?

The main question of this research program is to investigate what the present generation should do with regard to climate change given that our choices will not just have an impact on future generations but also determine who and how many people will exist in the future.

Informed decision-making about climate change policy requires not only an understanding of scientific facts, but also a firm grasp of the values and normative principles at stake. Should we be aiming for a smaller or larger population? How much ecological space and other natural resources must we save for people who will live longer after we die? Such questions pose a great challenge to our ordinary theories of justice and ethics, which have been designed with a set number of contemporaries in mind. The guidance offered by these theories in relation to future people is often unclear or counterintuitive – sometimes even paradoxical.

Bringing together an outstanding set of philosophers and social scientists, this program seeks to understand the values and principles that go into intergenerational relations. It investigates various problems in population ethics and the requirements of climate justice across generations, as well as how the requirements of ethics and justice could be approximated in practice. It also investigates under what circumstances people care more or less about future people and climate change and are willing to make a sacrifice for their sake.
Effective start/end date2018/09/01 → …