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Care, Uncertainty and Intergenerational Ethics – Dr Christopher Groves

19 January 2015

Palgrave Macmillan recently published Care, Uncertainty and Intergenerational Ethics, a book by Dr Christopher Groves, School of Social Sciences.

The uniqueness of the book lies in how it uses the ethics of care, with roots in feminist philosophy and other philosophical traditions, to approach the problem of how to think about our responsibilities to future generations, thus challenging established approaches based on more traditional theories of obligation.

Its distinctiveness is underlined by the ways in which it draws on research in the sociology of technology (science and technology studies) to challenge established philosophical approaches, before developing its own perspective on why the near and more distant future should matter to us now.

Dr Groves says: "Since at least the 1960s, society has become increasingly conscious that the human capacity to shape our collective futures is a double-edged sword. For example, the widespread use of technological innovations may, over time, produce unintended consequences that undermine the possibility of social progress itself – as in the case of human-caused global warming. Our collective ability to shape the future is often not accompanied by the ability to adequately understand the potential consequences of exercising it".

In light of these considerations, Dr Groves argues that we have to ask what it might mean to act responsibly towards future humans (and non-humans) and how it might be possible to do so.

He continues: "The answer to these questions is that we have to look for the meaning of responsibility in our capacity for attachment and care – not only for our 'significant others', but also for a range of things, including places, institutions and ideals. This can awaken us to the ways the near, but also the more distant, future is already latent in what matters to us here and now. Only by re-calibrating our sense of what responsibility means through the lens of care, can we cope with the uncertainties that living in technological societies inevitably brings".

Care, Uncertainty and Intergenerational Ethics by Dr Christopher Groves is available from Palgrave Macmillan.

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