Intergenerational Justice: How Reasonable Man Discounts Climate Damage
AbstractMoral philosophers and economists have evaluated the intergenerational problem of climate change by applying the whole gamut of theories on distributive justice. In this article, however, it is argued that intergenerational justice cannot imply the application of moral ideal theories to future generations. The formal principle of equality simply requires us to treat like cases as like. If intergenerational justice is to have any meaning, it would require future generations to receive the same treatment under the law and the same treatment from the authorities, as far as cases are like. In the context of climate change, the reasonable man standard from tort law is of particular relevance. There is no justification to handle pollution across generational boundaries according to norms which differ from the (international) laws for handling pollution across national borders. It is argued that this implies, for example, that a zero social rate of time preference should be used in cost-benefit analysis of climate policy: climate damage experienced by future generations should be discounted neither for their higher expected wealth, nor purely for their being remote.
Download InfoIf you experience problems downloading a file, check if you have the proper application to view it first. In case of further problems read the IDEAS help page. Note that these files are not on the IDEAS site. Please be patient as the files may be large.
Bibliographic InfoArticle provided by MDPI, Open Access Journal in its journal Sustainability.
Volume (Year): 4 (2012)
Issue (Month): 1 (January)
Contact details of provider:
Web page: http://www.mdpi.com/
intergenerational justice; equity; climate change; social rate of time preference; reasonable man; risk; tort law; future generations;
Find related papers by JEL classification:
- Q - Agricultural and Natural Resource Economics; Environmental and Ecological Economics
- Q0 - Agricultural and Natural Resource Economics; Environmental and Ecological Economics - - General
- Q2 - Agricultural and Natural Resource Economics; Environmental and Ecological Economics - - Renewable Resources and Conservation
- Q3 - Agricultural and Natural Resource Economics; Environmental and Ecological Economics - - Nonrenewable Resources and Conservation
- Q5 - Agricultural and Natural Resource Economics; Environmental and Ecological Economics - - Environmental Economics
- Q56 - Agricultural and Natural Resource Economics; Environmental and Ecological Economics - - Environmental Economics - - - Environment and Development; Environment and Trade; Sustainability; Environmental Accounts and Accounting; Environmental Equity; Population Growth
- O13 - Economic Development, Technological Change, and Growth - - Economic Development - - - Agriculture; Natural Resources; Environment; Other Primary Products
Please report citation or reference errors to , or , if you are the registered author of the cited work, log in to your RePEc Author Service profile, click on "citations" and make appropriate adjustments.:
- Thaler, Richard, 1981. "Some empirical evidence on dynamic inconsistency," Economics Letters, Elsevier, vol. 8(3), pages 201-207.
- David Anthoff & Richard S. J. Tol & Gary W. Yohe, 2008. "Risk Aversion, Time Preference, and the Social Cost of Carbon," Papers WP252, Economic and Social Research Institute (ESRI).
- Weitzman, Martin L., 1998. "Why the Far-Distant Future Should Be Discounted at Its Lowest Possible Rate," Journal of Environmental Economics and Management, Elsevier, vol. 36(3), pages 201-208, November.
- Paul A. Samuelson, 1958. "An Exact Consumption-Loan Model of Interest with or without the Social Contrivance of Money," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 66, pages 467.
- Marc D. Davidson, 2008. "Wrongful Harm to Future Generations: The Case of Climate Change," Environmental Values, White Horse Press, vol. 17(4), pages 471-488, November.
- Miceli, Thomas J & Segerson, Kathleen, 1995. "Defining Efficient Care: The Role of Income Distribution," The Journal of Legal Studies, University of Chicago Press, vol. 24(1), pages 189-208, January.
- Marshall, Alfred, 1890. "The Principles of Economics," History of Economic Thought Books, McMaster University Archive for the History of Economic Thought, number marshall1890.
- Wilfred Beckerman & Cameron Hepburn, 2007. "Ethics of the Discount Rate in the Stern Review on the Economics of Climate Change," World Economics, World Economics, Economic & Financial Publishing, 1 Ivory Square, Plantation Wharf, London, United Kingdom, SW11 3UE, vol. 8(1), pages 187-210, January.
- Shane Frederick & George Loewenstein & Ted O'Donoghue, 2002. "Time Discounting and Time Preference: A Critical Review," Journal of Economic Literature, American Economic Association, vol. 40(2), pages 351-401, June.
- David Pearce & Ben Groom & Cameron Hepburn & Phoebe Koundouri, 2003. "Valuing the Future," World Economics, World Economics, Economic & Financial Publishing, 1 Ivory Square, Plantation Wharf, London, United Kingdom, SW11 3UE, vol. 4(2), pages 121-141, April.
- Richard Tol, 2002. "Estimates of the Damage Costs of Climate Change, Part II. Dynamic Estimates," Environmental & Resource Economics, European Association of Environmental and Resource Economists, vol. 21(2), pages 135-160, February.
- J.K. Horowitz, 2002. "Preferences in the Future," Environmental & Resource Economics, European Association of Environmental and Resource Economists, vol. 21(3), pages 241-258, March.
- Schelling, Thomas C, 1995. "Intergenerational discounting," Energy Policy, Elsevier, vol. 23(4-5), pages 395-401.
- Richard B. Howarth & Richard B. Norgaard, 1990. "Intergenerational Resource Rights, Efficiency, and Social Optimality," Land Economics, University of Wisconsin Press, vol. 66(1), pages 1-11.
- Howarth, Richard B, 1998. " An Overlapping Generations Model of Climate-Economy Interactions," Scandinavian Journal of Economics, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 100(3), pages 575-91, September.
- Partha Dasgupta, 2008. "Discounting climate change," Journal of Risk and Uncertainty, Springer, vol. 37(2), pages 141-169, December.
For technical questions regarding this item, or to correct its authors, title, abstract, bibliographic or download information, contact: (XML Conversion Team).
If references are entirely missing, you can add them using this form.