Synopses & Reviews
What do we owe to our descendants? How do we balance their needs against our own? Tim Mulgan develops a new theory of our obligations to future generations, based on a new rule-consequentialist account of the morality of individual reproduction. He argues that the resulting theory accounts for a wide range of independently plausible intuitions--covering individual morality, intergenerational justice, and international justice. In particular, the moderate consequentialist approach is superior to its two main rivals in this area - person-affecting theories and traditional consequentialism. The former fall foul of Parfit's Non-Identity Problem, while the latter are invariably implausibly demanding. Mulgan also claims that most puzzles in contemporary value theory (such as Parfit's Repugnant Conclusion) are actually puzzles in the theory of right action, and can only be solved if we abandon strict consequentialism for a more moderate alternative.
The heart of the book is the first systematic exploration of the rule-consequentialist account of the morality of individual reproduction. Mulgan demostrates that this account is superior to all available alternatives, both consequentialist and non-consequentialist. Once we recognize the intergenerational dimension, moral and political philosophy cannot be considered in isolation. The latter must be founded on the former. Rule consequentialism provides the best foundation for a theory of intergenerational justice.
Future People brings together several different contemporary philosophical discussions: obligations to future generations, the morality of individual reproduction, the demands of morality, and international justice. While the focus is on developing a new account, there are also substantial discussions of alternative views, especially contract-based accounts of intergenerational justice and competing forms of consequentialism.
"What we owe to our own children, to the children of others, to our descendants, to the descendants of others, to future distant generations in our community, and to the future distant generation of distant others is a question few moral theories fully address. This glaring oversight is finally remedied by Tim Mulgan's Future People, an in-depth analysis of our obligations to future people, and the implications this analysis has for the plausibility of moral theories. Mulgan's extremely clear style makes Future People accessible and enjoyable. This book should be read by all who take moral interest in others (and even more so by those who don't).... Mulgan has written a timely and important book of incredibly impressive scope and interest. He argues in favor of highly reasonable reproductive rules and his intriguing book will no doubt be of great value to this neglected area of ethics."--Rivka Weinberg ,Notre Dame Philosophical Reviews
"The discussion is lively, incisive and provocative and will make an enduring contribution. Certainly anyone interested in consequentialism or moral status of future persons will learn a great deal from this fascinating and extremely worthwhile book."--M. A. Roberts, Mind
What do we owe to our descendants? How do we balance their needs against our own? Tim Mulgan develops a new theory of our obligations to future generations, based on a new rule-consequentialist account of the morality of individual reproduction. He also brings together several different contemporary philosophical discussions, including the demands of morality and international justice. His aim is to produce a coherent, intuitively plausible moral theory that is not unreasonably demanding, even when extended to cover future people. While the book focuses on developing this new account, there are also substantial discussions of alternative views, especially contract-based accounts of intergenerational justice and competing forms of consequentialism.
About the Author
Tim Mulgan is Professor of Moral and Political Philosophy at the University of St Andrews
Table of Contents
2. The Contract Theory
3. Value Theory
4. Hybrid Moral Theories
5. Rule Consequentialism
6. Reproductive Freedom
7. Optimism and Pessimism
8. Disagreement and Uncertainty
9. International Justice
10. The Limits of Rule Consequentialism
11. Dividing Morality