Chapter

The Tragedy of the Environment and Liberal Democracy

Ingmar Persson and Julian Savulescu

in Unfit for the Future

Published in print July 2012 | ISBN: 9780199653645
Published online September 2012 | e-ISBN: 9780191742033 | DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.1093/acprof:oso/9780199653645.003.0007
The Tragedy of the Environment and Liberal Democracy

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The problem of mitigating human induced climatic and environmental deterioration is harder to solve than the tragedy of the commons, even in the case in which the contributors are so many that the contribution of each becomes imperceptible. This is because the more harmful effects will occur several decades from now and will not affect us but our descendants; so, the bias towards the near future will kick in and make us discount the harm. Our limited altruism is also relevant because a lot of the bad effects will affect people in developing countries rather than affluent people in liberal democracies who cause the damage. The remoteness of the harmful effects is likely to make politicians in liberal democracies postpone unpopular measures to prevent them. This also enables them to argue that future technology will solve the problem.

Keywords: altruism; climatic deterioration; commons; environmental deterioration; liberal democracy; near future; technology

Chapter.  5483 words. 

Subjects: Moral Philosophy

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