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, Six Questions June 4, 2014, 8:00 am

Uncovering the Cover Ups: Death Camp in Delta

Mark Denbeaux on the NCIS cover-up of three “suicides” at Guantánamo Bay Detention Camp

From the June 2014 issue

The Guantánamo “Suicides,” Revisited

A missing document suggests a possible CIA cover-up

No Comment March 28, 2014, 12:32 pm

Scott Horton Debates John Rizzo on Democracy Now!

On CIA secrecy, torture, and war-making powers

Get access to 164 years of
Harper’s for only $39.99

United States Canada

CATEGORIES

THE CURRENT ISSUE

October 2014

Cassandra Among the
Creeps

= Subscribers only.
Sign in here.
Subscribe here.

“Today Is Better Than Tomorrow”

= Subscribers only.
Sign in here.
Subscribe here.

PBS Self-Destructs

= Subscribers only.
Sign in here.
Subscribe here.

The Monkey Did It

= Subscribers only.
Sign in here.
Subscribe here.

view Table Content

FEATURED ON HARPERS.ORG

Post
 
Rebecca Solnit on silencing women, a Marine commander returns to Iraq, the decline of PBS, and more
Article
Cassandra Among the Creeps·

= Subscribers only.
Sign in here.
Subscribe here.

On silencing women
“The old framework of feminine mendacity and murky-mindedness is still routinely trotted out, and we should learn to recognize it for what it is.”
Photograph © Sallie Dean Shatz
Post
Ending College Sexual Assault·

= Subscribers only.
Sign in here.
Subscribe here.

“This is not a fable about a young woman whose dreams were dashed by a sexual predator. Maya’s narrative is one of institutional failure at a school desperately trying to adapt.”
Photograph © AP/Josh Reynolds
Post
 
"Clothes are a bit like eating: you have to dress yourself. You have to eat, and even if you eat pizza all day long, that’s still a choice."
Photograph © G Powell
Article
“Today Is Better Than Tomorrow”·

= Subscribers only.
Sign in here.
Subscribe here.

“Iraq has every disease there is; its mind is deranged with too many voices, its organs corrupted, its limbs only long enough to tear at its own body.”
Photograph by Benjamin Busch

Amount by which the total wealth of all American households declined last year:

$11,200,000,000,000

A study concluded that commercial fish stocks may be gone by 2050 as a result of overfishing, pollution, and global climate change.

“All I saw,” said a 12-year-old neighbor of visits to the man’s house, “was just cats in little diapers.”

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

HARPER’S FINEST

In Praise of Idleness

By

I hope that after reading the following pages the leaders of the Y. M. C. A. will start a campaign to induce good young men to do nothing. If so, I shall not have lived in vain.

Subscribe Today