If You Polluted, You’re Included: The All-Affected Principle and Carbon Tax Referendums

Critical Review of International Social and Political Philosophy (forthcoming)
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In this paper, we argue that the All Affected Principle generates a puzzle when applied to carbon tax referendums. According to recent versions of the All Affected Principle, people should have a say in a democratic decision in positive proportion to how much the decision affects them. Plausibly, one way of being affected by a carbon tax referendum is to bear the economic burden of paying the tax. On this metric of affectedness, then, people who pollute a lot are ceteris paribus more affected than people who don’t, because the former stands to pay more in carbon taxes than the latter. Consequently, people who pollute a lot receive large voting power, while people who pollute a little receive little voting power. This is a puzzling distribution of voting power for several reasons. First, it is instrumentally counterproductive if the goal is to rectify damages to the climate. Second, it introduces prudential incentives for everyone to pollute more to gain voting power. Third, the relative difference in voting power between people who pollute a lot and people who don’t is puzzling from a desert-based point of view, since the former often make a serious effort to avoid polluting, while the latter don’t.

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Author Profiles

Jakob Mainz
Aalborg University (PhD)
David Matias Paaske
The Arctic University of Norway

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References found in this work

Enfranchising all affected interests, and its alternatives.Robert E. Goodin - 2007 - Philosophy and Public Affairs 35 (1):40–68.
Climate change and the duties of the advantaged.Simon Caney - 2010 - Critical Review of International Social and Political Philosophy 13 (1):203-228.
Democracy and proportionality.Harry Brighouse & Marc Fleurbaey - 2008 - Journal of Political Philosophy 18 (2):137-155.
Climate Change and Individual Duties to Reduce GHG Emissions.Christian Baatz - 2014 - Ethics, Policy and Environment 17 (1):1-19.

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