Markets, Justice, and the Interests of Future Generations

Ethics and the Environment 1 (2):153 - 175 (1996)
Abstract
This paper considers the extent to which market institutions respond to the needs and morally significant interests of future generations. Such an analysis of the intertemporal effects of markets provides important ground for evaluation of normative social theories, and represents a crucial step toward the development of an adequate account of intergenerational justice. After presenting a prima facie case that markets cannot provide appropriate protections for future needs and interests, I evaluate and reject two of the most promising arguments that purport to rebut this case. None of these arguments is adequate to show that markets will protect the interests of future generations. Given important grounds for pessimism about non-market solutions, this leaves little room for hope that we can successfully preserve productive resources that future generations will need to satisfy their basic needs. However, I tentatively suggest where this hope may reside.
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