Representing future generations: political presentism and democratic trusteeship

Critical Review of International Social and Political Philosophy 13 (1):17-37 (2010)
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Democracy is prone to what may be called presentism – a bias in the laws in favor of present over future generations. I identify the characteristics of democracies that lead to presentism, and examine the reasons that make it a serious problem. Then I consider why conventional theories are not adequate to deal with it, and develop a more satisfactory alternative approach, which I call democratic trusteeship. Present generations can represent future generations by acting as trustees of the democratic process. The general principle is that present generations should act to protect the democratic process itself over time. They should try to make sure that future citizens continue to have competent control over their collective decision‐making.



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Dennis Thompson
Leeds Metropolitan University

References found in this work

Political Liberalism.John Rawls - 1993 - Columbia University Press.
Leviathan.Thomas Hobbes - 1904 - Harmondsworth,: Penguin Books. Edited by C. B. Macpherson.
Justice as fairness: a restatement.John Rawls (ed.) - 2001 - Cambridge, Mass.: Harvard University Press.
Two treatises of government.John Locke - 1947 - New York: Cambridge University Press. Edited by Peter Laslett.

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