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The Malleability of Undiscounted Utilitarianism as a Criterion of Intergenerational Justice

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  • Geir B. Asheim
  • Wolfgang Buchholz

Abstract

Discounting future utilities is often justified by the ethically motivated objective of protecting earlier generations from the excessive saving that seems to be implied by undiscounted utilitarianism in productive economies. We question this justification of discounting by showing that undiscounted utilitarianism has sufficient malleability within important classes of technologies: any efficient and non-decreasing allocation can be the unique optimum according to an undiscounted utilitarian criterion for some choice of utility function. Copyright The London School of Economics and Political Science 2003.

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Bibliographic Info

Article provided by London School of Economics and Political Science in its journal Economica.

Volume (Year): 70 (2003)
Issue (Month): 279 (08)
Pages: 405-422

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Handle: RePEc:bla:econom:v:70:y:2003:i:279:p:405-422

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  1. Cass, David, 1990. "Indefinitely sustained consumption despite exhaustible natural resources," CEPREMAP Working Papers (Couverture Orange) 9027, CEPREMAP.
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Cited by:
  1. Zuber, Stéphane & Asheim, Geir B., 2012. "Justifying social discounting: The rank-discounted utilitarian approach," Journal of Economic Theory, Elsevier, vol. 147(4), pages 1572-1601.
  2. Mabrouk, Mohamed, 2006. "Allais-anonymity as an alternative to the discounted-sum criterion in the calculus of optimal growth I: Consensual optimality," MPRA Paper 10512, University Library of Munich, Germany.
  3. Wolfgang Buchholz & Cornelia Ohl & Aneta Ufert, 2012. "Ökonomische Blickwinkel auf Gerechtigkeitsfragen am Beispiel des globalen Klimaschutzes," Discussion Paper Series RECAP15 001, RECAP15, European University Viadrina, Frankfurt (Oder).

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