Climate Change, Sustainability and an Ethics of an Open Future
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Climate change, dwindling resources, and growth of the global population have emerged as challenges for all areas of political action in modern societies. These challenges have been on the political agenda since the "Limits to Growth" report was released in 1972. While the challenges are well known, and while there appears to be some form of consensus that sustainability is a goal worth striving for, there is little discussion of how the changes necessary to achieve this goal will affect our political institutions, our social relationships, our moral responsibilities, and our self-understanding in general. The more far-reaching the necessary changes are, the more pressing the following questions will become: To what extent are political and economic institutions - national as well as global - capable of realizing sustainable politics and what is its ethical basis? To what extent will personal liberties, such as freedom of movement, property rights, and reproductive autonomy, need to be limited in order to realize sustainable politics? How could we extend the current system of human rights to incorporate the rights of future generations? Can we expect human beings to take responsibility for the living conditions of future generations, and how do such responsibilities affect philosophical and eschatological theories? An ethics of an open future must develop criteria for moral action under conditions of uncertainty. A developed theory of the principle of precaution in ethics and law is, however, lacking.
This will be the 50th Societas Ethica conference. It is realized in cooperation with the ESF Network "A Right to a Green Future".
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