Chapter

Persons, Peoples, Generations

David Gauthier

in Morals by Agreement

Published in print May 1987 | ISBN: 9780198249924
Published online November 2003 | e-ISBN: 9780191597497 | DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.1093/0198249926.003.0009
Persons, Peoples, Generations

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In this chapter, we consider some of the implications of our theory. We first discuss taxation to cover the cost of supplying pure public goods, suggesting that a flat tax may best fit the requirements of the principle of minimax relative concession. We show that the right to collect factor rent is not part of the liberty assured by either the proviso or minimax relative concession. We defend the right under the proviso of individuals to appropriate productive resources originally held in common provided that in so doing they provide new and better opportunities for those affected. We discuss briefly the vexing problem of encounters between societies at very different levels of development, including the European appropriation of North America. We introduce four criteria to govern a partial ordering of ways of life in terms of advancement or human development: (sustainable) density of population; (average) duration of life; material well‐being; and most important, breadth of (effectively available) opportunity. Finally, we discuss relations among persons of different generations, showing how the principle of minimax relative concession provides a way of determining the rational rate of investment (forgoing present consumption), yielding steadily increasing well‐being.

Keywords: appropriation; factor rent; generations (different); investment; minimax relative concession; proviso; public goods; taxation; way of life

Chapter.  15928 words. 

Subjects: Moral Philosophy

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