Environmental Ethics

Volume 43, Issue 4, Winter 2021

Igor EterovićOrcid-ID
Pages 315-337

Grounding Responsibility to Future Generations from a Kantian Standpoint

The problem of responsibility to future generations is inherently related to responsibility for the environment. Attempting to provide a new grounding for the figuration of such responsibility, Hans Jonas used Immanuel Kant’s ethics as a paradigm of traditional ethics to provide a critique of their limitations in addressing these issues, and he found three crucial problems in Kant’s ethics (formalism, presentism, and individualism). Kant’s philosophy provides enough material for an answer to Jonas by building an account which 1) gives a teleological grounding of responsibility for the environment and consequently responsibility to future generations; 2) enables the establishment of collective responsibility towards the idea of moral progress, which includes future generations; and 3) answers Jonas’s challenge by extending moral concerns to other living and non-living beings and especially to future generations.