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December 06, 2009


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On this subject I always have the overwhelming urge to ask, "Future generations? What did they ever do for us?"

More seriously, though, there is a fairly larger philosophical literature on the subject, mostly under the heading "justice between generations". The "modern" discussion of the issue in philosophy goes at least back to Rawls, who has several discussions on the issue, partly related to his idea of a "just savings principle", in _A Theory of Justice_. (The idea is also discussed, to some degree, by Mill, in particular in his idea of a "stationary state economy" and by Sidgwick, though less directly, I think. It's possible that other philosophers spent time on the idea between Sidgwick and Rawls but I'm not sure.) How easily this philosophical discussion can be translated into useful legal or political principles is, of course, unclear.

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