Apr 2023

Labont Seminar – Costanza Penna, “Binding the Present and the Future. Transgenerational Social Actions as Joint Commitments”

Sala Incontri 1 - Biblioteca di Filosofia, Palazzo Nuovo

April 3, 2023

Labont Seminar

Costanza Penna
“Binding the Present and the Future. Transgenerational Social Actions as Joint Commitments”
Most social phenomena are designed to outlive their initiators through transgenerational social actions, which involve some form of cooperation between present and future generations. Philosophers tend to agree that current participants have obligations and rights to future ones, who are expected to carry on the actions; however, it is less clear what kind of normativity binds them and how it can be preserved diachronically. I suggest framing transgenerational social actions as long-term joint commitments, with the caveat that future generations can participate only when they are concrete groups. Until then, they are abstract artifacts and cannot be members. Yet, current generations have reasons to jointly commit to transgenerational social actions even at this stage, all things considered. I identify such a normative source in the call from future generations, intuitively felt as an ethical resistance in the present. Although this justification is external to the structure of joint commitment, it does not challenge its overall validity, but only its foundational conjecture. In fact, thus underpinned, the role of transgenerational social actions as joint commitments can be restored, ensuring three desiderata: the moral justification of transgenerationality finds additional and compelling ground of stability in the social normativity of joint commitment, the responsibility to future generations is collective in a strong sense, and the representation of future generations can resist the risk of paternalism.