A theory of intergenerational justice [Elektronische Ressource] / vorgelegt von Jörg Tremmel

A theory of intergenerational justice [Elektronische Ressource] / vorgelegt von Jörg Tremmel

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A Theory ofIntergenerational JusticeInauguraldissertation zur Erlangung des Doktorgrades derPhilosophie (Dr. phil.) durch die Philosophische Fakultät derHeinrich-Heine-Universität DüsseldorfVorgelegt von Dr. rer. pol. Jörg TremmelAus Oberursel/TaunusErstgutachter: Prof. Dr. Dieter BirnbacherZweitgutachter: Prof. Dr. Michael BaurmannTag der mündlichen Prüfung: 14.5.2008iD 61iiThematic Structure1. Introduction2. Criteria-Based Definitions of Scientific Terms3. Comparisons between Generations4. Objections to Theories of Generational Justice5. What to Sustain? Capital or Wellbeing as an Axiological Goal?6. How Much to Sustain? The Demands of Justice in theIntergenerational Context7. ConclusioniiiContentsList of Figures............................................................................................................................ viiiList of Tables ................................................................................................................................ xList of Abreviations ..................................................................................................................... xi1 Introduction........................................................................................................................... 11.1 Mankind’s Increasing Powers....................................................................................... 11.2 The No-Man’s-Land of Ethics.........................................

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A Theory of
Intergenerational Justice
Inauguraldissertation zur Erlangung des Doktorgrades der
Philosophie (Dr. phil.) durch die Philosophische Fakultät der
Heinrich-Heine-Universität Düsseldorf
Vorgelegt von Dr. rer. pol. Jörg Tremmel
Aus Oberursel/Taunus
Erstgutachter: Prof. Dr. Dieter Birnbacher
Zweitgutachter: Prof. Dr. Michael Baurmann
Tag der mündlichen Prüfung: 14.5.2008
iD 61
iiThematic Structure
1. Introduction
2. Criteria-Based Definitions of Scientific Terms
3. Comparisons between Generations
4. Objections to Theories of Generational Justice
5. What to Sustain? Capital or Wellbeing as an Axiological Goal?
6. How Much to Sustain? The Demands of Justice in the
Intergenerational Context
7. Conclusion
iiiContents
List of Figures............................................................................................................................ viii
List of Tables ................................................................................................................................ x
List of Abreviations ..................................................................................................................... xi
1 Introduction........................................................................................................................... 1
1.1 Mankind’s Increasing Powers....................................................................................... 1
1.2 The No-Man’s-Land of Ethics...................................................................................... 3
1.3 Ethics of the Future—in a Double Sense...................................................................... 5
1.4 Distinguishing Generational Justice from Sustainability.............................................. 8
1.5 The Role of Philosophy ................................................................................................ 9
1.6 Procedure of the Planned Study.................................................................................. 11
2 Criteria-Based Definitions of Scientific Terms .................................................................. 13
2.1 Four Criteria for Definitions 13
2.1.1 The Common Use ............................................................................................... 14
2.1.2 Adequacy ............................................................................................................ 15
2.1.3 Fruitfulness ......................................................................................................... 16
2.1.4 Etymological Meaning........................................................................................ 17
3 Comparisons between Generations..................................................................................... 19
3.1 The Ambiguity of the Term ‘Generation’................................................................... 19
3.1.1 Family Generations............................................................................................. 19
3.1.2 Societal Generations ........................................................................................... 19
3.1.3 Chronological Generations ................................................................................. 20
3.2 Irrelevance of Societal Generations for Intergenerational Justice Theories ............... 21
3.3 Relevance of Family-related Generations for Intergenerational Justice Theories...... 22
3.4 Temporal and Intertemporal Generational Justice...................................................... 22
3.4.1 Should we Use the Term ‘Age Groups’ instead of ‘Temporal Generations’?.... 23
3.4.2 Definition of ‘Future’ Generations ..................................................................... 24
3.5 Direct and Indirect Comparisons of Chronological Generations................................ 26
3.6 Comparisons between Generations in various Fields ................................................. 28
3.7 Comparisons the Field of Ecology as an Example ..................................................... 30
3.8 Comparison of Life Courses ....................................................................................... 32
3.9 Summary..................................................................................................................... 33
4 Objections to Theories of Generational Justice .................................................................. 34
4.1 Non-Identity-Problem................................................................................................. 34
4.1.1 Unconvincing Arguments against the ‘Non-Identity Problem’.......................... 37
4.1.1.1 “Humans are more than their DNA”............................................................... 37
4.1.1.2 “There will be Enough People in the Future to Justify our Responsibilities to
them” ........................................................................................................................ 37
4.1.1.3 “The Snowball Effect of the Non-Identity-Problem is Minimal”................... 38
4.1.2 Convincing Objections against the ‘Non-Identity Challenge’............................ 39
4.1.2.1 The ‘Your Neighbour´s Children’ Argument ................................................. 39
4.1.2.2 The ‘Butterfly Effect’-Argument.................................................................... 40
4.1.3 The ‘No-Difference-View’ ................................................................................. 43
4.1.4 Other Arguments against the ‘Non-Identity-Challenge’ .................................... 46
4.2 “Future Individuals Cannot Have Rights”.................................................................. 49
4.2.1 Introduction......................................................................................................... 49
4.2.2 Human Rights Discourse and Ethical Discourse ................................................ 50
4.2.3 Can Future People Be Said to Have Moral Rights?............................................ 51
iv4.2.4 Will Future People have Moral Rights? ..............................................................53
4.2.5 The Origin and Nature of ‘Rights’ ......................................................................53
4.2.6 Do we have Present Obligations to People who will Exist in the Future? ..........56
4.2.6.1 Persons with Indeterminate Identities .............................................................56
4.2.6.2 An Indeterminate Number of Future Persons..................................................58
4.2.7 The Relationship of Rights and Obligations .......................................................59
4.2.8 Unusual Wordings ...............................................................................................60
4.2.9 Can Future People Be Said to Have Legal Rights?.............................................62
4.2.9.1 National Constitutions .....................................................................................62
4.2.9.2 ‘Succeeding’ instead of ‘Future’ Generations.................................................64
4.2.9.3 International Law.............................................................................................65
4.2.9.4 Group Rights ...................................................................................................66
4.2.10 Summary..............................................................................................................69
5 What to Sustain? Capital or Wellbeing as an Axiological Goal?........................................70
5.1 Societal Targets and Concepts of Justice ....................................................................70
5.2 The Capital-Based Approach ......................................................................................70
5.2.1 Introduction .........................................................................................................70
5.2.2 Which Capital? ....................................................................................................72
5.2.3 Heritage or Legacy? ............................................................................................73
5.2.4 Substitution of Different Types of Capital ..........................................................74
5.2.4.1 ‘Weak Sustainability’75
5.2.4.2 ‘Strong Sustainability’.....................................................................................78
5.2.4.3 Mediatory Approaches as a Solution?.............................................................81
5.2.5 Financial Capital—So-called ‘Generational Accounting’...................................81
5.2.6 Approaches to Measuring Changes in Total Capital...........................................83
5.2.6.1 Generational Inheritance According to Hauser ...............................................83
5.2.6.2 Generational Inheritance According to the Economic Sustainability Indicator..
.........................................................................................................................88
5.2.7 Cultural Capital ...................................................................................................93
5.2.8 Social Capital.......................................................................................................95
5.2.9 Conclusion.........................................................................................................100
5.3 The Wellbeing-Approach ..........................................................................................102
5.3.1 Defining the ‘Wellbeing’ Terms........................................................................104
5.3.1.1 Wellbeing and Welfare..................................................................................104
5.3.1.2 Happiness ......................................................................................................104
5.3.1.3 Satisfaction ....................................................................................................106
5.3.1.4 Pleasure..........................................................................................................106
5.3.1.5 Utility.............................................................................................................106
5.3.1.6 Quality of Life ...............................................................................................107
5.3.1.7 Fulfillment of what? ......................................................................................107
5.3.2 Does each Generation have Different Needs?...................................................109
5.3.3 Ultimate Justification of ‘Wellbeing’ as a Societal Objective ..........................112
5.3.4 Alternative ‘Social Ends’ ..................................................................................113
5.3.4.1 Asceticsm ......................................................................................................113
5.3.4.2 Virtue114
5.3.5 Do only Utilitarians See Wellbeing as the Societal Objective? ........................117
5.4 Measuring Wellbeing ................................................................................................119
5.4.1 Objective versus Subjective Indicators .............................................................119
5.4.1.1 Subjective Indicators for Wellbeing..............................................................120
v5.4.1.2 Problems with Statements on Happiness in Generational Comparisons ...... 129
5.4.1.3 The Preferred Year of Birth.......................................................................... 131
5.4.1.4 Measuring Brain Waves................................................................................ 133
5.4.1.5 Escaping from Reality .................................................................................. 134
5.4.2 Objective Measurement of Wellbeing .............................................................. 135
5.4.2.1 Human Development Index (HDI) ............................................................... 136
5.4.2.2 Human Wellbeing Index (HWI) ................................................................... 142
5.4.2.3 Weighted Index of Social Progress (WISP) ................................................. 145
5.4.2.4 Which Index is Best for Measuring Changes in the Wellbeing of Generations?
...................................................................................................................... 147
5.5 Advantages and Disadvantages of the Capital-Based Approach and the Wellbeing-
Based Approach.................................................................................................................... 150
5.6 Average Utilitarianism versus Total Utilitarianism: a Repugnant Conclusion?....... 151
6 How Much to Sustain? The Demands of Justice in the Intergenerational Context .......... 156
6.1 A Compass for the No-Man´s-Land?........................................................................ 156
6.2 The Applicability of Intragenerational Justice Theories in the Intergenerational
Context.................................................................................................................................. 156
6.3 Justice as Impartiality: Rawls’ Original Position Theory......................................... 159
6.3.1 The ‘Veil of Ignorance’ .................................................................................... 159
6.3.2 Criticisms of Rawls’ Theorising on Intergenerational Problems...................... 162
6.3.3 Two Central Weaknesses of Rawls’ Concept................................................... 163
6.3.3.1 No Limits to Growth for Rawls? .................................................................. 163
6.3.3.2 No Clear Definition of a Fair Inheritance..................................................... 163
6.3.4 Rawls’ Various ‘Veil of Ignorance’ Models 165
6.3.5 Rawls’ Response to his Critics ......................................................................... 167
6.3.6 What would Really be Discussed in the ‘Original Position’? .......................... 168
6.3.6.1 Model 1, Finite n........................................................................................... 171
6.3.6.2 Model 1, Finite n, Changeable History......................................................... 173
6.3.6.3 Model 1, infinite n ........................................................................................ 179
6.3.6.4 Model 2: Finite n 179
6.3.6.5 Model 2, Infinite n 180
6.3.7 Summary........................................................................................................... 181
6.4 Justice as the Equal Treatment of Equal Cases, and the Unequal Treatment of
Unequal Cases....................................................................................................................... 183
6.4.1 What Does ‚Justice as Equality’ Actually Mean? ............................................ 183
6.4.2 Justice According to Performance .................................................................... 185
6.4.3 Justice According to Effort ............................................................................... 185
6.4.4 Justice According to Needs 186
6.4.5 Justice according to Performance, Effort or Need in the Intergenerational
Context .......................................................................................................................... 188
6.4.6 Elimination of Inequality? ................................................................................ 188
6.4.7 Distributive Justice and Justice of Opportunities ............................................. 195
6.4.8 Justice Towards Past Generations?................................................................... 196
6.5 Justice as Reciprocity................................................................................................ 198
6.5.1 Justice as Reciprocity in the Intragenerational Context.................................... 198
6.5.1.1 Reciprocity as a Balance of Deterrence between Egoistic Individuals ........ 198
6.5.1.2 ‘Self-Interest’ and ‘Egoism’ ......................................................................... 201
6.5.1.3 The Premise of Utility-Maximising Individuals in Economics .................... 203
6.5.1.4 Market and Society ....................................................................................... 206
vi6.5.1.5 Single and Repeated Games ..........................................................................208
6.5.1.6 Reciprocal Contracts with Hobbes and Rawls ..............................................209
6.5.2 Justice as Reciprocity in the Intergenerational Context ....................................210
6.5.2.1 Reciprocity Between Temporal and Family Generations .............................211
6.5.2.2 Indirect Reciprocity with Family and Temporal Generations.......................212
6.5.2.3 Indirect Reciprocity between Intertem..............................213
6.6 Intergenerational Justice as Enabling Advancement.................................................215
7 Conclusion.........................................................................................................................220
References………………………………………………………………
viiList of Figures
Figure 1: Relevant time scales for mankind and the environment .............................................2
Figure 2: Spheres of inter- and intragenerational justice............................................................5
Figure 3: The analytical definition of sustainability...................................................................9
Figure 4: Temporal and intertemporal generations ..................................................................23
Figure 5: Generations for which obligations are excluded by Golding´s definition ................25
Figure 6: Comparisons between generations in the Lexis-diagram..........................................26
Figure 7: Direct comparisons between generations27
Figure 8: Indirect comparisons between generations ..............................................................28
Figure 9: Longitudinal comparison...........................................................................................28
Figure 10: The ‘your neighbour’s children argument’ .............................................................40
Figure 11: Area of applicability and moral relevance of the ‘non-identity argument’.............45
Figure 12: The relationship between ethical norms and laws...................................................51
Figure 13: The most important transfer flows between three generations ...............................84
Figure 14: Possible societal objectives and clarifying terms..................................................103
Figure 15: Human dispositions...............................................................................................108
Figure 16: Wellbeing at different times a day ........................................................................120
Figure 17: Happiness, income and the role of aspiration levels .............................................122
Figure 18: Global distribution of happiness and life satisfaction ...........................................126
Figure 19: Levels of happiness 1850 and 2005 and the wrong conclusion ............................130
Figure 20: The most preferred years of birth..........................................................................131
Figure 21: Happiness over time, based on the ‘preferred years of birth’-method ..................132
Figure 22: Global HDI development 1975–2004 ...................................................................137
Figure 23: HDI values in the developing continents 1975–2004 ...........................................138
Figure 24: Development of the average HDI in the USA, Germany, France, Great Britain,
Japan, and the Netherlands 1820–1992 ..................................................................................139
Figure 25: Development of global poverty 1820–2001..........................................................141
Figure 26: Structure of the HWI .............................................................................................142
Figure 27: Global distribution of HWI values ........................................................................143
Figure 28: Global distribution of HDI values.........................................................................144
viiiFigure 29: WISP values 1970–2000....................................................................................... 146
Figure 30: Development of WISP values in selected periods ................................................ 146
Figure 31: The so-called ‘Repugnant Conclusion’................................................................. 152
Figure 32: Light suffering cannot be an axiological goal....................................................... 154
Figure 33: HDI development (past and future scenarios) ...................................................... 170
Figure 34: Real HDI increase and trend line .......................................................................... 175
Figure 35: Wellbeing growth rates r and r + r ............................................................. 177aut aut care
Figure 36: Wellbeing growth rate through savings by earlier generations ............................ 178
Figure 37: Distributive justice and ‘justice of opportunities’................................................. 195
Figure 38: Budget function and indifference curves .............................................................. 204
Figure 39: Direct reciprocity between temporal and family generations ............................... 211
Figure 40: Indirect reciprocity between tem............................. 213
ixList of Tables
Table 1: Number of publications on generational justice in the widest sense............................7
Table 2: Comparisons between generations in various fields...................................................29
Table 3: Comparisons between generations (example: biological diversity)...........................31
Table 4: Comparisons between life courses (example: pension scheme).................................33
Table 5: Forms of Capital .........................................................................................................71
Table 6: Rough estimate of the generational inheritance left behind by the old generation
that died around the year 2000 in Germany ...............................................................84
Table 7: Social capital and its relevance for generational accounting......................................96
Table 8: Development of the HDI values in Germany, France, Great Britain, Japan,
the Netherlands, and the USA 1820–1992................................................................139
Table 9: GDP per capita since the year 1 AD.........................................................................140
Table 10: Comparison between HWI and HDI in the year 2001............................................145
Table 11: Wellbeing (fulfillment of needs) vs. capital ...........................................................150
Table 12: 6000 generations and their average wellbeing .......................................................171
Table 13: Equal distribution of welfare among 6000 generations..........................................173
Table 14: Distribution of wellbeing (wishful thinking)..........................................................173
Table 15: Distribution of wellbeing (smallest denominator)..................................................174
Table 16: Wellbeing distribution (decline after a catastrophe)...............................................174
Table 17: Wellbeing distribution (steady HDI growth)174
Table 18: We(prevention of mistakes) ....................................................175
Table 19: Effects of several human actions/omissions on the wellbeing of others ................202
Table 20: Utility balance with explicit breakdown.................................................................205
Table 21: Utility balance with implicit breakdown ................................................................206
x