THE POLITICAL IMAGINARY OF CARE: GENERIC VERSUSSINGULAR FUTURES
The impacts of the activities of technological societies extend further into the future thandoes their capacity to predict and control these impacts. Some have argued that therepercussions of this deficiency of knowledge cause fatal difficulties for bothconsequentialist and deontological accounts of future oriented obligations. Increasingly,international politics encompasses issues where this problem looms large: the connectionbetween energy production and consumption and climate change provides an excellentexample. As the reach of technologically-mediated social action increases, it is necessaryto ask whether a political imaginary that extends itself to match this reach requires newconcepts, and how far they should displace traditional political concepts of obligation,based on reciprocity and harm avoidance. This paper draws on recent scholarship on therole of concepts of care in political philosophy, bringing together phenomenological andfeminist concepts of care in contributing to a positive concept of non-reciprocalintergenerational obligation that defends a constitutive connection between care and justice.
Attachment, care ethics, Hans Jonas, intergenerational justice, responsibility,uncertainty
The issues of how to determine what our responsibilities to futuregenerations are, and how these relate to the tools we possess for knowingabout the future, are increasingly the subject of international politicaldebates. The emergence of a variety of transboundary environmentalrisks, from acid rain to ozone depletion, has led to this emerging focus,with the most obvious contemporary condensation point for theseconcerns being anthropogenic climate change (ACC). Establishinginternational compacts to coordinate action on ACC has made only slowprogress. Many have seen the best hope for producing such agreementsas lying in unambiguous climatological evidence of rising temperaturesand the causal role of greenhouse gases (GHGs). Nonetheless, predictionsregarding future trends are hedged about with currently irresolvableuncertainties, meaning that, rather than a single future trend beingidentified, a set of future climate change scenarios exists. The Stern Review,
The Economics of Climate Change
(published in 2006)responded to these ambiguities with a case for action that employed themethodology of neoclassical welfare economics, including integrated cost-benefit analysis (hereafter CBA). The intention was to persuade politicaland business interests of the urgent need for action by appealing torational self-interest. The cost of failing to reduce GHG emissions wasestimated to be between 5% and 20% of global GDP. By comparison,achieving a reduction of GHG atmospheric concentrations to between 500