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The Challenge of Future Generations for Business Ethics

Daniel Arenas, Pablo Rodrigo



This article reviews the problematic surrounding the concept of future generations, which is intertwined with questions concerning intergenerational justice, weak sustainability, non-existence, non-identity, and motivation. It also claims that business ethics should deal with intergenerational issues but cannot ignore the philosophical challenges involved. Based on the distinction between future generations and overlapping generations, we suggest focusing on the latter to avoid the difficulties of the former, and to facilitate the connection with organizational concerns. The distinction between overlapping and future generations relies on the notions of thick and thin morality, and is illustrated through a parallelism with the ethics of memory and the idea of indirect reciprocity. Finally, we inquire how obligations toward overlapping generations can be included in the framework of stakeholder theory.

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DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.13185/JM2013.01104