It should now be completely clear to any educated citizen of any nation that, without a global commitment to reduce emissions of greenhouse gases during the next decades, the people who will come after us will live harsh, probably unbearable, lives. Yet the necessarily radical changes in phasing out the use of fossil fuels and in altering our agricultural practices are likely to impose further burdens on those who are already struggling and suffering. They also threaten to frustrate the aspirations of the world’s poorer nations, as they hope to share in the benefits brought to the affluent world by the industrial revolution. Humanity thus faces a difficult ethical dilemma. How are we to balance the needs of people alive now against those of our descendants? His lecture will begin by trying to show clearly how this dilemma has arisen. He shall then use an ethical framework, social contractualism. Philip Kitcher have developed elsewhere to try to make some progress in solving it.
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