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Abstract

Rawls notes that the question of justice between generations “subjects any ethical theory to severe if not impossible tests.” (A Theory of Justice (TOJ), p. 251) and the difference principle Rawls argues for in A Theory of Justice is inapplicable to the problem of justice between generations. Specifically, the fact that there “is no way for later generations to help the least fortunate earlier generation…[means that] the difference principle does not hold for the question for justice between generations.” (TOJ p.254) Curiously, despite Rawls’ warning, there is vein of literature that endeavors to show that the difference principle yields time inconsistent preferences when applied to the problem of justice between generations (see Dasgupta 1974). Rawls, however, argues instead for a just savings principle that assigns to each generation a level of saving in order that the institutions of justice as fairness may be implemented and maintained. After exploring public goods that may be required both for the implementation and the stability of the institutions of justice as well as those that create special problems to which the just savings principle cannot be applied, I consider what form this principle might take.

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