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Intergenerational Justice$
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Axel Gosseries and Lukas H. Meyer

Print publication date: 2009

Print ISBN-13: 9780199282951

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: September 2009

DOI: 10.1093/acprof:oso/9780199282951.001.0001

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A Transgenerational Difference Principle

A Transgenerational Difference Principle

(p.189) 7 A Transgenerational Difference Principle
Intergenerational Justice

Daniel Attas

Oxford University Press

Can Rawls's theory provide a framework for assessing obligations to future generations? Extending the veil of ignorance so that participants in the original position do not know to which generation they belong appears to fail in this endeavour. Earlier generations cannot improve their situation by ‘cooperating’ with later generations. Such circumstances, lacking mutuality, leave no room for an agreement or contract. Nevertheless, the original position can be reconstructed so as to model relations of mutuality between generations even if these are absent from the real world. This chapter assesses earlier attempts to do this and provides a rationale for viewing the just savings principle as a clause in the full formulation of the difference principle.

Keywords:   Rawls, difference principle, saving, mutuality, self-respect

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