Apel and Locke on our Duty to Future Generations

Hiroshi Abe


Why do we, today’s people, owe a duty to future generations with whom we will not overlap? In my paper, I aim at answering this question step by step. The first step is to respond to the question (“Why-Question 1” or “WQ1”) why human beings should continue to exist. I try this by critically considering Karl-Otto Apel’s argument for the survival of human beings from the viewpoint of his own discourse ethics. This consideration, however, leads us to the second step where we are faced with the following question (“WQ2”): For what reason do we – this particular generation and no other – owe a duty to future people? In order to answer this, I will interpret John Locke’s Two Treatises of Government and Book of Rites, a Chinese classic of Confucianism. From this interpretation, I would like to conclude that we are responsible for future people as far as we are responsible to past generations who delegated such future-oriented responsibility to us.


Environmental Philosophy; Intergenerational Responsibility; Discourse Ethics; Karl-Otto Apel; John Locke

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Metodo. International Studies in Phenomenology and Philosophy
Published by sdvig press, Genève-Lausanne
ISSN  2281-9177

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