Climate ethics and future generations
The overarching question of this research program is to investigate what we should do with regard to climate change given that our choices will not just have an impact on future generations but also determine who and how many people will exist in the future. Informed decision-making about climate change policy requires not just an understanding of scientific facts, it also requires a firm grasp of the values and normative principles at stake. Should we for example aim for a smaller or larger population? How much ecological space and other natural resources should we save for people who will live long after we die? Such questions pose a great challenge to our ordinary principles of justice and value, since they haven’t been designed with future generations in mind. The guidance offered by these theories in relation to future people is often unclear or counterintuitive, and sometimes even paradoxical. Bringing together a group of outstanding philosophers and social scientists, this programme will explore the values and principles that should govern intergenerational relations. It will investigate important theoretical and practical problems in population ethics, the theory of justice, and climate ethics. In order to facilitate compliance with principles, the programme will also investigate under what circumstances laypersons care more or less about future people and climate change and when they are willing to make a sacrifice for the sake of future people.