Unit 16

Protecting future generations


Why care about the future?

a. contexts of concern
b. contemporary sensibility towards future generations

The scope and limits of future related responsibilities

a. Intergenerational; distant generations, all unborn generations?
b. Human or non-human species?

Do we have obligations to the possible people of the future?

How to represent the future in present decision-making?

Healthcare and future generations

a. Prescription of medication without any rationale (e.g. antibiotics, etc.) is a threat to future generations – long-term effects of medicine
b. Xenotransplantation
c. Genetically modified food
d. Germ-line genetic interventions

Precautionary Principle


A civil action / (S. Zaillian, 1998)

Lawyer Jan Schlichtmann is addressed by a group of families to attend a seemingly non-profiting case. In the course of investigation, he finds it to be a major environmental issue that has a lot of impact potential. A leather production company could be responsible for several deadly cases of leukemia, but also is the main employer for the area. Based on a true story.

Ethical issues
Ilegal practice of medicine and research on poor native population from an African village: medication business and corporate corruption.

Erin Brokovich / (S. Soderberg, 2000)

An unemployed single mother becomes a legal assistant and begins to investigate a suspicious real estate case involving the Pacific Gas & Electric Company. What she discovers is that the company is trying quietly to buy land that was contaminated by hexavalent chromium, a deadly toxic waste that the company is improperly and illegally dumping and, in turn, poisoning the residents in the area.

Ethical issues
Harm to community health, Corporate corruption, Threat to future generations.