Intergenerational Justice

Axel Gosseries

in The Oxford Handbook of Practical Ethics

Published in print September 2005 | ISBN: 9780199284238
Published online September 2009 | | DOI:

Series: Oxford Handbooks in Philosophy

 Intergenerational Justice

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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.

Keywords: intergenerational justice; temporal location; ethical challenges; next generation; theories of justice; reciprocity-based justice

Article.  12504 words. 

Subjects: Philosophy ; Moral Philosophy

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