When the Generational Overlap Is the Challenge Rather Than the Solution. On Some Problematic Versions of Transgenerational Justice

The Monist 106 (2):194-208 (2023)
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While in the realm of scholarly debate on intergenerational justice the mechanism of a transgenerational intertwinement has been often adopted as a chief conceptual device in view of overcoming ethical short-termism and legitimizing duties towards future generations, this paper aims at showing that there are good reasons for considering the opposite outcome. Drawing on three paradigmatic examples taken from three mainstream approaches in the debate—Rawls’s contractualism, Gauthier’s contractarianism, and indirect reciprocity—I will show how the grammar of presentism is still largely operative under the surface of theories explicitly recurring to such a device and thereby advocating a chain of duties capable to reach the remote future. A short closing section will be devoted to endorsing a radical reorientation in ethics, such that a direct link to future invocations will be considered as a promising strategy for genuinely justifying intergenerational obligations.



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Principia Ethica.George Edward Moore - 1903 - International Journal of Ethics 14 (3):377-382.
The Methods of Ethics.Henry Sidgwick - 1907 - Revista Portuguesa de Filosofia 30 (4):401-401.
Contemporary Political Philosophy. An Introduction.Will Kymlicka - 1993 - Tijdschrift Voor Filosofie 55 (1):180-181.

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