The threat of intergenerational extortion: on the temptation to become the climate mafia, masquerading as an intergenerational Robin Hood

Canadian Journal of Philosophy 47 (2-3):368-394 (2017)
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This paper argues that extortion is a clear threat in intergenerational relations, and that the threat is manifest in some existing proposals in climate policy and latent in some background tendencies in mainstream moral and political philosophy. The paper also claims that although some central aspects of the concern about extortion might be pursued in terms of the entitlements of future generations, this approach is likely to be incomplete. In particular, intergenerational extortion raises issues about the appropriate limits to the sway of central values such as welfare and distributive justice. We should be wary of ways in which such values invite us to buy off, or perhaps to join, an intergenerational climate Mafia.



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Stephen M. Gardiner
University of Washington