Erkenntnis

pp 1–18 | Cite as

Intergenerational Rights and the Problem of Cross-Temporal Relations

Original Research

Abstract

This paper considers the prospects for a theory of intergenerational rights in light of certain ontologies of time. It is argued that the attempt to attribute rights to future persons or obligations to present persons towards future persons, faces serious difficulties if the existence of the future is denied (a position I call ‘No-Futurism’). The difficulty of attributing rights to non-existent future persons is diagnosed as a particularly intractable version of the ‘problem of cross-temporal relations’ that plagues No-Futurist views like presentism. I develop a version of the problem of cross-temporal relations regarding cross-temporal normative relations. I then consider and reject various solutions to the problem available to No-Futurists. The upshot of the discussion is that which ontology of time we choose sets constraints on the kinds of explanations we may offer for our future-directed obligations.

Notes

Acknowledgements

Thanks to an anonymous referee for the journal, Joshua Gert, Jonah P.B. Goldwater, Chad Vance, Chris Tucker, Wesley Cray, Amy Seymour, Kate Ritchie, and audiences at the 2016 Eastern APA and the 2016 Alabama Philosophical Society meeting for comments and questions on earlier drafts of the paper.

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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media Dordrecht 2017

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Philosophy Department, 138 James Blair HallCollege of William & MaryWilliamsburgUSA

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