There has been current news and politics concerning the effects of the use of gasoline on the environment. This has generated a debate on whether it is ethical to continue its consumption yet it is affecting the environment for the future generations which may alter the environment and make it not conducive for survival. The excessive use of oil in automotive industry is at an alarming rate with ever increasing demand due to increased vehicle manufacture. Out of these concerns, we examine the libertarian theories of ethics put forward in the discussions to alleviate the environmental degradation.
Libertarian Theories of Ethics
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Libertarian theories emphasize individual liberties and their rational choices. It is any allocation that gives free, informed and unforced choices through just definition. The normal practices of libertarian theories stress on the free markets which are not interfered as the core mechanisms for just distribution of goods in the society (Boylan & Donahue, 2003). The most important part of libertarian theory is that it should be able to preserve the rights of future generation while it current rights are acceptable by the current generation without any contradictions (Sterba, 1998; Ahrens, 1983).
The politics of people concern with environment conservation suggest that if taxes are increased on gasoline, it would limit the consumption of oil. This will be due to increased prices leading to low demand and subsequently resulting in reduced environmental effects. This proposal may work well in reducing the consumption of oil because other consumers may opt to use public means rather than private means. The theory that supports this reduction of oil consumption is a libertarian theory of rights and future generations (Mohammed, 1998). Reduces oil consumption ensures clean environment for the future generations.
Since a lot of automobiles use oil resulting in pollution, there is a significant and urgent need to control such pollution for the purpose of future generations. Thus the theory of rights to the future generations encourage this proposal of tax increased which cuts consumption. However, economy of many current people is dependent on oil usage in automobile industry. This means that increase in its prices has a direct injustice on the people who rely on this sector for their daily business operations.
Another injustice will occur on consumers out of general price increase of consumer goods. This occurs because of increased transport charges by automobiles to recover the fuel price increases leading to increased consumer prices for commodities. This injustice occurs by the fact that consumers will suffer out of increased cost of living due to increased taxes and thus defeating the theory of justice to current generation. In this case the current generation will not accept this theory because it subjects them to hard economic environments which they rather sacrifice the future generations to suffer out of environmental degradation (Mohammed, 1998).
There are practical ways of reducing the injustices caused by oil price increases such as providing alternative sources of energy to substitute the use of oil. This would make the current generation carry out its duties without restrictions of costs. However, the alternative sources of energy should be environmentally conducive. Moreover, developing low oil consumption automobiles will enable little usage of oil and thus the price effect would be covered by the economical nature of the automobiles (Fabre, 2007).
The other alternative to maintain a libertarian theory of rights and future generations is by the reduction of production of fuel guzzlers. The government may encourage the car manufacturers to manufacture fuel economical vehicles for use as compared to guzzlers which are currently used by several government officials. This would lead to reduced consumption of oil and consequently reduced environmental impact.
However, it is not legal for the US government to prevent the automobile industry from producing fuel guzzling vehicles or any other legal good. This is because the productions are permitted by law and that the encouragement by the government may as well be turned down by the industries due to the fact that it interferes with their current business operations and its profits in the long run. Thus, this matter is not economically driven but rater out of political principles of conserving future generation which is not enforceable by law (Mohammed, 1998; Frey and Wellman, 2003).
The Libertarian theory of free enterprise corporate culture supports the fact that it is not legal for the government to prevent production of any legal good (Mohammed, 1998). The companies are therefore free to engage in operations that are legal and returns profits to them. Therefore it is important that the government encourage the corporate sector to reduce their productions by offering them alternative business opportunities so as to maintain the equitable justice for current and future populations.
The US has undeniably developed cheap technology like coal and fluorocarbons. However, the effects on the environment were extremely harmful and it led to their banning or rather restrictions. The ethical considerations on them were that the rights of the future generations to live in a clean environment were being violated which led to development of legislations which restricted their usage (Fabre, 2007).
Therefore, the libertarian theory of rights and future generations concerning the use of oil is an important ethical aspect which should be considered by the government and its citizens. This theory, if fully considered and adopted will allow future generations to live in clean environments free from pollution. This theory developed to ensure that the future generation benefits of the clean environment should be able to lead to further inventions of alternative and clean energy sources.
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