Advanced Search
MyIDEAS: Login to save this paper or follow this series

Should we discount future generations’ welfare? A survey on the “pure” discount rate debate

Contents:

Author Info

  • Grégory Ponthière

Abstract

In A Mathematical Theory of Saving (1928), Frank Ramsey not only laid the foundations of the fruitful optimal growth literature, but also launched a major moral debate: should we discount future generations’ well-being? While Ramsey regarded such “pure” discounting as “ethically indefensible”, several philosophers and economists have developed arguments justifying the “pure” discounting practice since the early 1960s. This essay consists of a survey of those arguments. After a brief examination of the – often implicit – treatment of future generations’ welfare by utilitarian thinkers before Ramsey’s view was expressed, later arguments of various kinds are analysed. It is argued that, under the assumption of perfect certainty regarding future human life, the “pure” discounting practice seems ethically untenable. However, once we account for the uncertainty regarding future generations’ existence, “pure” discounting seems more acceptable, even if strong criticisms still remain, especially regarding the adequateness of the expected utility theory in such a normative context. those limits would be faced by any other consequences-based ethical theory in front of Different Number Choices.

Download Info

If 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.
File URL: http://www2.ulg.ac.be/crepp/papers/crepp-wp200302.pdf
Download Restriction: no

Bibliographic Info

Paper provided by Centre de Recherche en Economie Publique et de la Population (CREPP) (Research Center on Public and Population Economics) HEC-Management School, University of Liège in its series CREPP Working Papers with number 0302.

as in new window
Length:
Date of creation: 2003
Date of revision:
Handle: RePEc:rpp:wpaper:0302

Contact details of provider:
Postal: Boulevard du Rectorat, 7, Batiment 31, boite 39, 4000 Liege
Phone: + 32 (0) 4 366 31 08
Fax: + 32 (0) 4 366 31 06
Web page: http://www2.ulg.ac.be/crepp/
More information through EDIRC

Related research

Keywords:

References

No references listed on IDEAS
You can help add them by filling out this form.

Citations

Citations are extracted by the CitEc Project, subscribe to its RSS feed for this item.
as in new window

Cited by:
  1. Niklas Potrafke, 2006. "Parties Matter in Allocating Expenditures: Evidence from Germany," Discussion Papers of DIW Berlin, DIW Berlin, German Institute for Economic Research 652, DIW Berlin, German Institute for Economic Research.

Lists

This item is not listed on Wikipedia, on a reading list or among the top items on IDEAS.

Statistics

Access and download statistics

Corrections

When requesting a correction, please mention this item's handle: RePEc:rpp:wpaper:0302. See general information about how to correct material in RePEc.

For technical questions regarding this item, or to correct its authors, title, abstract, bibliographic or download information, contact: (Mathieu Lefebvre).

If you have authored this item and are not yet registered with RePEc, we encourage you to do it here. This allows to link your profile to this item. It also allows you to accept potential citations to this item that we are uncertain about.

If references are entirely missing, you can add them using this form.

If the full references list an item that is present in RePEc, but the system did not link to it, you can help with this form.

If you know of missing items citing this one, you can help us creating those links by adding the relevant references in the same way as above, for each refering item. If you are a registered author of this item, you may also want to check the "citations" tab in your profile, as there may be some citations waiting for confirmation.

Please note that corrections may take a couple of weeks to filter through the various RePEc services.