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Environmental Ethics

Volume 4, Issue 3, Fall 1982

Norman S. Care
Pages 195-213

Future Generations, Public Policy, and the Motivation Problem

A motivation problem may arise when morally principled public policy calls for serious sacrifice, relative to ways of life and levels of well-being, on the part of the meInbers of a free society. Apart from legal or other forms of “external” coercion, what will, could, or should move people to make the sacrifices required by morality? I explore the motivation problem in the context of morally principled public policy concerning our legacy for future generations. In this context the problem raises special moral-psychological difficulties. My inquiry suggests pessimism regarding our ability to solve the motivation problem relative to what morality requires on behalf of future generations.

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