No Comment, Quotation — December 18, 2007, 7:28 am

Jonas on the Duty to Subsequent Generations

sarpedon

Da spätere Menschen auf jeden Fall da sein werden, gibt ihnen, wenn es so weit ist, ihr unerbetenes Dasein das Recht, uns Frühere als Urheber ihres Unglücks zu verklagen, wenn wir durch sorgloses und vermeidbares Tun die Welt oder die menschliche Konstitution für sie verdorben haben. Während sie für ihr Dasein nur ihre direkten Erzeuger verantwortlich halten können (und auch da ein Recht zu Klage nur haben, wenn deren Recht zu Nachwuchs aus spezifischen Gründen in Frage gestellt werden kann), können sie für die Bedingungen ihres Daseins entfernte Vorfahren oder allgemeiner die Urheber dieser Bedingungen verantwortlich halten.

Because later humans will in any event be present, their unsought existence gives them the right, when things have deteriorated to that point, to raise a claim against us, their predecessors, as the source of their misfortune, to the extent that we, through thoughtless and avoidable dealings, have spoiled the world or the human constitution for them. While they can hold only those who produced them to account for their existence (and even then they have a right to complain, only when their right to progeny is placed in question for specific reasons), they are entitled to hold to account even distant ancestors or more generally those who have caused the circumstances under which they suffer for the conditions of their existence.

Hans Jonas, Das Prinzip Verantwortung: Versuch einer Ethik für die technologische Zivilisation, pp. 87-88 (1984)(S.H. transl.)

Share
Single Page

More from Scott Horton:

No Comment March 28, 2014, 12:32 pm

Scott Horton Debates John Rizzo on Democracy Now!

On CIA secrecy, torture, and war-making powers

No Comment November 4, 2013, 5:17 pm

The Torture Doctors

An expert panel concludes that the Pentagon and the CIA ordered physicians to violate the Hippocratic Oath

No Comment August 12, 2013, 7:55 am

Obama’s Snowden Dilemma

How will the Obama Administration handle Edward Snowden’s case in the long term?

Get access to 164 years of
Harper’s for only $34.99

United States Canada

CATEGORIES

THE CURRENT ISSUE

May 2014

50,000 Life Coaches Can’t Be Wrong

= Subscribers only.
Sign in here.
Subscribe here.

The Quinoa Quarrel

= Subscribers only.
Sign in here.
Subscribe here.

You Had to Be There

= Subscribers only.
Sign in here.
Subscribe here.

A Study in Sherlock

= Subscribers only.
Sign in here.
Subscribe here.

view Table Content

FEATURED ON HARPERS.ORG

Post
“In Thunupa’s footsteps grew a miraculous plant that could withstand drought, cold, and even salt, and still produce a nutritious grain.”
Photograph by Lisa M. Hamilton
Article
A Study in Sherlock·

= Subscribers only.
Sign in here.
Subscribe here.

“It is central to the pleasure of the Sherlock Holmes stories that they invite play, and that they were never meant to be taken seriously.”
Illustration by Frederic Dorr Steele
Post
My Top 5 Metal Albums and Their Poetic Counterparts·

= Subscribers only.
Sign in here.
Subscribe here.

“1. Death, The Sound of Perseverance (Nuclear Blast, 1998)”
Photograph (detail) by Peter Beste
Article
Found Money·

= Subscribers only.
Sign in here.
Subscribe here.

“I have spent my entire adult existence in a recession. Like most people I talk to, I assume the forces that control the market are at best random and at worst rigged. The auction shows only confirm that suspicion.”
Illustration by Steven Dana
Post
The School of Permanent Revolución·

= Subscribers only.
Sign in here.
Subscribe here.

“The University of Venezuela has provided a consistent counterweight to governmental authority, but it has also reliably produced the elite of whatever group replaced the status quo.”
Photograph © Daniel Lansberg-Rodríguez

Percentage of non-Christian Americans who say they believe in the resurrection of Christ:

52

A newly translated Coptic text alleged Judas’ kiss to have been necessitated by Jesus’ ability to shape-shift.

Russia reportedly dropped a series of math texts from a list of recommended curricular books because its illustrations featured too many non-Russian characters. “Gnomes, Snow White,” said a Russian education expert, “these are representatives of a foreign-language culture.”

Subscribe to the Weekly Review newsletter. Don’t worry, we won’t sell your email address!

HARPER’S FINEST