The Setting

  • Hendrik Ph. Visser ’t Hooft
Part of the Law and Philosophy Library book series (LAPS, volume 40)


I now want to sketch in a few words how the nature of environmental problems and the conceptual features of our relationship with future generations determine the general character of the issue we are dealing with.


Moral Claim Unborn Child Potential Nature Future People Holistic Nature 
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  1. 59.
    Brown Weiss 1988, 27: “Thus our concern for our own country must, as we extend our concerns into larger time horizons…focus on protecting the planetary quality of our… environment.”Google Scholar
  2. 60.
    Laslett and Fishkin 1992, 11–14.Google Scholar
  3. 62.
    Ibid., 14. I have skipped Laslett and Fishkin’s discussion of how kinship analogies cannot remedy the arbitrary character of the “cohort”: see ibid. 8–10.Google Scholar
  4. 63.
    The “chain of love” concept is developed by Passmore 1974, 88–89.Google Scholar
  5. 64.
    Daly and Cobb 1989, 39.Google Scholar
  6. 65.
    Finnis 1980, 205.Google Scholar
  7. 66.
    Feinberg 1980. I note that Feinberg’s argument, as it is based on examples taken from the legal system (representation of future interests), addresses a possible objection to the recognition of legal rights. But the argument is fully applicable, to start with, to what may be an objection to the notion of moral rights.Google Scholar
  8. 67.
    Ibid., 165: “no conscious wishes, desires and hopes; or urges and impulses; or unconscious drives, aims and goals; or latent tendencies, direction of growth, and natural fulfillments”.Google Scholar
  9. 68.
    Ibid., 178–179. “Contingent upon his birth”: i.e. effective in the present, but in anticipation of birth actually occurring, and so voidable if he dies first.Google Scholar
  10. 70.
    Ibid. Feinberg also discusses the question whether future generations have an actual interest: the interest to come into existence. He rightly denies it.Google Scholar
  11. 71.
    Parfit 1984, 351 f. Cf.the discussion in Achterberg 1994, 197–201. I must desist from discussing Parfit’s own (utilitarian) handling of the problem.Google Scholar
  12. 72.
    In the same sense: Achterberg 1994, 200 and Hilhorst 1987, 75–77. Hilhorst refers to D.MacLean, A moral requirement for energy policies, in D.MacLean, P.G.Brown (eds.), Energy and the Future, Totowa N.J. 1983, pp. 180–197.Google Scholar

Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media Dordrecht 1999

Authors and Affiliations

  • Hendrik Ph. Visser ’t Hooft
    • 1
  1. 1.Utrecht UniversityUtrechtThe Netherlands

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