Should the current members of a community compensate the victims of their ancestor’s emissions of greenhouse gases? I argue that the previous generation of polluters may not have been morally responsible for the harms they caused.I also accept the view that the polluters’ descendants cannot be morally responsible for their ancestor’s harmful emissions. However, I show that, while granting this, a suitably defined notion of moral free-riding may still account for the moral obligation of the polluters’ descendants to compensate the (...) current victims of their ancestors’ actions. A concept of transgenerational free-riding is defined. Objections to the idea of using free-riding as part of a theory of justice are rejected. Two different views of moral free-riding are contrasted, with consequences for the amount of compensation to be exigible from the polluters’ descendants. Some final considerations are devoted to the possible relevance of this free-riding-based view for other issues of historical injustice. (shrink)
In times of climate change and public debt, a concern for intergenerational justice should lead us to have a closer look at theories of intergenerational justice. It should also press us to provide institutional design proposals to change the decision-making world that surrounds us. This book provides an exhaustive overview of the most important institutional proposals as well as a systematic and theoretical discussion of their respective features and advantages. It focuses on institutional proposals aimed at taking the interests of (...) future generations more seriously, and does so from the perspective of applied political philosophy, being explicit about the underlying normative choices and the latest developments in the social sciences. It provides citizens, activists, firms, charities, public authorities, policy-analysts, students, and academics with the body of knowledge necessary to understand what our institutional options are and what they entail if we are concerned about today's excessive short-termism. (shrink)
Is it fair to leave the next generation a public debt? Is it defensible to impose legal rules on them through constitutional constraints? From combating climate change to ensuring proper funding for future pensions, concerns about ethics between generations are everywhere. In this volume sixteen philosophers explore intergenerational justice. Part One examines the ways in which various theories of justice look at the matter. These include libertarian, Rawlsian, sufficientarian, contractarian, communitarian, Marxian and reciprocity-based approaches. In Part Two, the authors look (...) more specifically at issues relevant to each of these theories, such as motivation to act fairly towards future generations, the population dimension, the formation of preferences through education and how they impact on our intergenerational obligations, and whether it is fair to rely on constitutional devices. (shrink)
In this article, we explore the implications of a Rawlsian theory for intergenerational issues. First, we confront Rawls's way of locating his `just savings' principle in his Theory of Justice with an alternative way of doing so. We argue that both sides of his intergenerational principle, as they apply to the accumulation phase and the steady-state stage, can be dealt with on the bases, respectively, of the principle of equal liberty and of the difference principle. We then proceed by focusing (...) on the implications of applying maximin to his steady-state stage. One central claim is that, in principle, Rawlsians should consider not only generational dissavings, but also generational savings, as unfair. This principle suffers a series of exceptions on which we focus in the fourth section of the article. In some cases, growth can be maximin compatible. (shrink)
This report by the WHO Consultative Group on Equity and Universal Health Coverage addresses how countries can make fair progress towards the goal of universal coverage. It explains the relevant tradeoffs between different desirable ends and offers guidance on how to make these tradeoffs.
This Introduction tells the story of intergerational justice and how it has influenced philosophers and political thinkers throughout history. The Introduction goes on to discuss the aims of the book, which is to offer a sustained discussion of intergenerational justice as seen by practical philosophers. The first part of the book focuses on the way in which various schools of thought in moral and political philosophy approach the domain of intergenerational justice, while the second part focuses on more specific aspects, (...) such as how these theories address the question of motivation, how they deal with demographic fluctuations, or how they can be applied to real-world issues such as climate change. (shrink)
The first debate in this article has to do with the very possibility of intergenerational justice beyond our obligations towards members of other generations while they coexist with us. Here, we ask ourselves whether we owe anything to people who either have died already, or are not yet born. Differences in temporal location mean that people may not exist at the same time — be it only during part of their life — which raises special ethical challenges. It is one (...) thing to decide whether we owe anything to the next generation(s). It is another to define what we owe them. Most standard theories of justice have tried to answer this difficult question. This article focuses on a comparison between a reciprocity-based and an egalitarian account of justice between generations. It then turns, on the one hand, to a brief discussion of alternative theories and, on the other hand, to implementation issues. (shrink)
This chapter explores the specificities, strengths, and weaknesses of the idea of reciprocity as a basis for intergenerational obligations. Three models are presented: descending, ascending, and double reciprocity. Each of these three models is tested against three objections. The first objection asks why having received something from someone would necessarily entail the obligation to give back. The second objection questions the ability of each model to justify the direction of reciprocation. A final objection looks at the extent to which reciprocity-based (...) views adjust the content of our obligation to the fluctuations in population size. (shrink)
In this paper, the author offers a synoptic view of different theories of intergenerational justice, along two dimensions (savings/dissavings) and three modalities (prohibition, authorisation, obligation). After presenting successively the indirect reciprocity, the mutual advantage, the utilitarian and the Lockean approaches, special attention is given to the egalitarian theory of intergenerational justice. Two key differences between the egalitarian view on intergenerational justice and the sufficientarian interpretation of sustainability are highlighted.
La présente contribution vise à offrir au lecteur une présentation de la doctrine suffisantiste de la justice, de ses justifications générales et spécifiques et de son articulation possible avec d’autres théories de la justice. Elle explore certains aspects plus particuliers tels que la place de la responsabilité en son sein, son applicabilité au domaine intergénérationnel ou son positionnement par rapport à la question des « vies-complètes ». Elle montre aussi en quoi, quelles que soient les faiblesses possibles de cette doctrine, (...) elle présente des caractéristiques la rendant non redondante, en particulier par rapport à l’égalitarisme du leximin.This paper aims at presenting sufficientarianism, its justifications, specificities and the ways in which it can be combined with other theories of justice. We also explore more specific dimensions such as the place of responsibility-sensitivity, the doctrine’s application to the intergenerational realm or its interest for « complete-life » questions. We show to what extent, despite some weaknesses, it is not redundant when compared to or combined with leximin egalitarianism. (shrink)
Should the foreign debt of the world’s poorest countries be cancelled? In this essay, I am concerned with whether a generational perspective makes a difference in answering this question. I will show that it does, and that alternative accounts of repayment obligations are possible. I argue that a distributive theory of justice is not only appropriate to address the challenges to justice raised by long-term sovereign indebtedness, but that it is also superior to the solution offered by the odious debt (...) doctrine.Unlike the odious debt doctrine, a distributive view is capable of taking intoaccount the separateness of generations. More speciﬁcally, I also argue thatthe need to preserve creditors’ incentives to lend to the poor in order toensure that the latter keep having access to credit for important development purposes requires the adoption of a narrow, problem-speciﬁc view, which focuses on the distributive impact of the loan transaction, rather than a broad distributive view, which looks at the general distributive situation of the two descendent communities. (shrink)
What should maximin egalitarians think about seniority privileges? We contrast a good-specific and an all-things-considered perspective. As to the former, inertia and erasing effects of a seniority-based allocation of benefits from employment are identified, allowing us to spot the categories of workers and job-seekers made involuntarily worse off by such a practice. What matters however is to find out whether abolishing seniority privileges will bring about a society in which the all-things-considered worst off people are better off than in the (...) seniority rule's presence. An assessment of the latter's cost-reduction potential is thus needed, enabling us to bridge a practice taking place within a firm with its impact on who the least well off members of society are likely to be. Three accounts of the profitability of seniority privileges are discussed: the “(firm specific) human capital”, the “deferred compensation” and the “knowledge transfer” ones. The respective relevance of “good-specific” and “all-things-considered” analysis is discussed. It turns out that under certain circumstances, a maximin egalitarian case for seniority privileges could be made. Senior: Do you know that they are planning layoffs? Of course, it is only fair that they lay-off the newcomers first! After all, I have been loyal to the company for many years. Junior: Did I choose to be a newcomer? Footnotes1 Many thanks to two anonymous referees, to P.-M. Boulanger, B. Cockx, C. Fabre, L. Jacquet, E. Lazear, I. Robeyns, G. Vallée, Y. Vanderborght, Ph. Van Parijs, V. Vansteenberghe and J. de Wispelaere for their help and critical comments. Earlier versions of this paper were presented in Louvain-la-Neuve, Ghent, Montevideo and London. I am very grateful to these audiences. Special thanks to G. Brennan for his extensive and extremely valuable comments on earlier drafts of this paper. The usual disclaimers apply. (shrink)
La cobertura universal de salud está en el centro de la acción actual para fortalecer los sistemas de salud y mejorar el nivel y la distribución de la salud y los servicios de salud. Este documento es el informe fi nal del Grupo Consultivo de la OMS sobre la Equidad y Cobertura Universal de Salud. Aquí se abordan los temas clave de la justicia (fairness) y la equidad que surgen en el camino hacia la cobertura universal de salud. Por lo (...) tanto, el informe es pertinente para cada agente que infl uye en ese camino y en particular para los gobiernos, ya que se encargan de supervisar y guiar el progreso hacia la cobertura universal de salud. (shrink)
In this volume, fourteen philosophers, economists and legal scholars and one computer scientist address various facets of the same question: under which conditions (if any) can intellectual property rights be fair? This general question unfolds in a variety of others: What are the parallels and differences between intellectual and real property? Are libertarian theories especially sympathetic to IP rights? Should Rawlsian support copyright? How can a concern for incentives be taken into account by each of the main theories of justice? (...) What's exactly wrong with free-riding, when dealing with non-rival goods? This requires a close examination of a variety of specific issues such as peer-to-peer file sharing, access to vital medicines, the interaction between copyright and freedom of expression, patents on genes, etc. It also involves bringing together state-of-the-art knowledge on legal, economic and technical issues with the most advanced state of our normative theories. (shrink)
In this introduction, the author briefly presents the way in which Clayton, Segall and Lippert-Rasmussen deal with what egalitarianism has to say about non-discrimination in hiring. Parallels and differences between their approaches are stressed.
Competition – more specifically economic competition – is relevant to ethical reflection in different ways. Some of its features exacerbate the intensity of moral problems we may otherwise come across in a context of scarcity. For instance, when competition is especially tough – think about winner-takes-all cases – one agent is likely to lose significantly if he or she acts ethically, to the benefit of others who act in ways that seem ethically questionable. Whenever ‘ethics does not pay’ and competition (...) is intense, an economic actor can lose business as a result. Admittedly, business death does not necessarily amount to a person’s death, which makes it different from lifeboat cases. But running out of business is still a very serious problem. Consider also the issues that arise in the context of strong tax competition. Imposition of a fair corporate tax structure may simply chase the most mobile players to low-tax jurisdictions.Another fact about economic competition that renders ethical issues more vivid is company replaceability. Often, if a single agent renounces acting in a way considered morally problematic – e.g. investing in natural resource infrastructure and exploration in a country such as Burma – other players may step in to replace the single agent and immediately assume its morally problematic role. As a result, the people the single agent was concerned about – the citizens of Burma – may reap no positive consequences at all from what we consider the right act by the single agent.There is of course a connection between the first phenomenon – “competition may make it more costly for me to be moral” – and the second – “it makes no difference whether I act morally or not”. I lose in both cases, while no one other than a competitor who has no more moral status than I do wins. If I lose business because I aim at doing the right thing, and others immediately replace me, I will be the only loser. The only winner will be another company. And the very people I am most concerned about may gain nothing at all.It seems legitimate to expect moral theory to have at least something to tell us about what individual agents are supposed to do in such types of contexts. It is also moral theory’s task to consider under which conditions competition itself can be seen as a good thing, whether more competition is always better – as consumer protection too often assumes – and whether there is some connection between coming closer to perfect competition and getting closer to what could be called a fair price. The question is not only “how to be fair when there is competition”, it is also “can competition be fair?”These questions invite us to look more closely at markets. The marketplace allows for supply-demand coordination. It also allows consumers to compare products from different suppliers. We often operate under the assumption that the existence of competition helps to reduce the degree to which producers can exploit consumers. This assumption is, indeed, key to justifying policies that aim at fighting monopolies. But is this salutary effect enough to render even perfect competition fair? One might claim, for example, that while markets permit a reduction in producer exploitation of consumers, it may in fact exacerbate the reverse phenomenon, i.e. by allowing consumers to “exploit” workers and capitalists.Three papers offered in the present edition of Ethical Perspectives are the outcome of a workshop organized in October 2010 as part of a project entitled “Social Responsibility in Economic Life”. This workshop took place with the financial support of the Fondation Emile Bernheim at the Université catholique de Louvain. The first two papers – by Roberts and Dietsch – look at issues of fairness in competition, whereas the third – by Arnsperger – addresses the problem of fairness of competition.Competition is a location in which people continuously harm one another – e.g. my competitive practices can easily make you lose clients or your leadership position. Against this backdrop, the only important issue is often considered to be whether – and to what extent – such a harm should also be seen as a wrong.Roberts focuses on cases in which the very harm itself seems impossible to locate – a finding that would itself seem to moot the issue of wrongdoing from the start. Multiple-agent situations in particular challenge our ability to discern harm in any clear sense. Consider the case in which one agent’s acting in a questionable way seems to make no difference to the alleged victim, since had the one agent not acted in that way a second agent would have stepped in to replace the one agent and imposed at least the same degree of damage on that victim. In such an instance, how can the one agent’s acting in a questionable way be said to harm the victim, when the fact is that it makes no difference from the victim’s perspective whether the one agent acts in this way or not?Relying on an account of how individual agents can be said to participate in what is in effect a group harm, Roberts argues that that ‘no difference’ assessment is a mistake. She then demonstrates how the application of this concept of harm can translate into ethical constraints on specific agents.Dietsch focuses on regulatory competition and more specifically on the duties of one type of actor – the tax planning industry. He considers three definitions of corporate social responsibility before offering an even weaker definition. The latter consists in the following double obligation. According to Dietsch, corporations should ‘pay their taxes’ and ‘not undermine the respect of fiscal obligations by third parties’. He does not directly question the legitimacy of tax planning as a whole. He insists instead that self-regulation in this sector is utopian – more than in other sectors – even if one assigns to the actors in question a truly minimal social responsibility. In this connection, he identifies a twofold challenge that the ethical actor must, in Dietsch’s view, be prepared to meet.Finally, Arnsperger shows that the relationship between solidarity and competition can be understood in at least three ways. Competition can be seen as a source of solidarity. Solidarity can be seen as a counterweight to some effects of competition. And competition can be considered as a dynamic threat to genuine solidarity. He defends the third view as central, with clear implications for the claim according to which competition can be seen as fair. (shrink)
This paper provides a comparative analysis of the way in which, as well as the extent to which, two key variables potentially allow for the development of more left-wing versions of libertarianism and hobbesianism. It turns out that hobbesianism, while disposing of ways to extend the scope of what should be seen as the “cooperative surplus”, is in trouble when it comes to justifying “equal division” as a general rule to divide up such a surplus. In contrast, libertarianism can meaningfully (...) rely on strategies extending the notion of external resources as well as on an equal division rule. We then explore what this entails with respect to the capacity of such theories to offer more redistributive versions than their standard forms. We also briefly look at how to map such left-wing versions, and especially left-libertarianism, once they are compared with other theories such as luck egalitarianism or sufficientarianism. (shrink)
For maximin egalitarians, the intergene rational context raises a threefold challenge. First, doesn't intergenerational maximin simply require a prohibition on dissavings, as a commutative conception of justice based on indirect reciprocity does ? Second, shouldn't we take seriously the aggregative worries of utilitarians in order not to remain eternally stuck into misery. Thus, shouldn't we abandon maximin ? Third, don't we find ourselves in a context where standard egalitarianism and maximin egalitarianism would coincide ? The A. provides a negative answer (...) to each of these three questions. He indicates in particular the extent to which maximin egalitarianism does not simply amount to a non-dis-savings rule. He stresses the way in which we should think about intergenerational justice in a properly distributive manner and he examines the way in which we can deal with the « aggregative challenge ». (shrink)