Mannsperger Str. 29
D-70619 Stuttgart

Fon 0711 / 28052777
Fax 03212 / 2805277
This e-mail address is being protected from spam bots, you need JavaScript enabled to view it

Account details:
GLS Gemeinschafts-
bank eG


Issues PDF Print E-mail

  Former Issue:

Intergenerational Justice Review 2012

“The Interdependencies between Justices”


This publication is available as a free PDF

Editorial Excerpt

There exists a frequently unhelpful and rigidly formulated theoretical dichotomy in the intergenerational literature, which can confine our intellectual thinking and restrict the efficacy of our policy: the separation of intra- and intergenerational justice. Intergenerational justice deals with justice between the generations. Intragenerational justice focuses on lines of cleavage between contemporaries, such as economic disparities between states in the international system.

On the one hand, the maxim that each generation has the right to act in a self-determining way has led to a political culture in which present generations pursue short-sighted and generationally specific objectives. By the same token, as Hans Jonas has argued, mankind’s realisation that his ability to transform nature for his own purposes may lead to irreversible environmental damage has led to the call for a new ethics for future generations. It is important to emphasise the pertinence this separation has outside the academic world: political decisions are often informed by only one type of justice, ignoring the consequences for other types of justices. On the other hand, proponents of the sustainability concept frequently take all types of justice into account and, by often implicitly assuming that they are complementary, ignore possible trade-offs. Hence one can find a lack of intellectual endeavour focused on bridging the theoretical gap between the more traditional demands of social and international justice and intergenerational justice with real implications for policy.


1) Prof. Dr. Stefan Baumgärtner, Stefanie Glotzbach, Nikolai Hoberg, Martin F. Quaas and Klara Helene Stumpf: Economic Analysis of Trade-offs between Justices

Abstract: We argue that economics – as the scientific method of analysing trade-offs – can be helpful (and may even be indispensable) for assessing the trade-offs between intergenerational and intragenerational justice. Economic analysis can delineate the “opportunity set” of politics with respect to the two normative objectives of inter- and intragenerational justice, i.e. it can describe which outcomes are feasible in achieving the two objectives in a given context, and which are not. It can distinguish efficient from inefficient uses of instruments of justice. It can identify the “opportunity cost” of attaining one justice to a higher degree, in terms of less achievement of the other. We find that, under very general conditions, (1) efficiency in the use of instruments of justice implies that there is rivalry between the two justices and the opportunity cost of either justice is positive; (2) negative opportunity costs of achieving one justice exist if there is facilitation between the two justices, which can only happen if instruments of justice are used inefficiently; (3) opportunity costs of achieving one justice are zero if the two justices are independent of each other, which is the case in the interior of the opportunity set where instruments of justice are used inefficiently.

2) Prof. Dr. Christoph Lumer: Combining Intergenerational and International Justice

Abstract: Intergenerational justice not only requires the adoption of best practices and policies, but also the prevention and repression of deleterious and morally blameworthy human behaviour which have severe impacts on the long-term health, safety and means of survival of groups of individuals. While many international crimes have indirect consequences on the well-being of present and future generations, it cannot be said that existing international criminal law is currently well-placed to directly and clearly protect intergenerational rights. As such, the development of a new type of international crime, crimes against future generations, may be a promising avenue for implementing intergenerational justice. Such a crime would penalise acts or conduct that amount to serious violations of existing international law regarding economic, social and cultural rights or the environment.

3) Dr. Bruce E. Auerbach and Michelle Reinhart: Antonin Scalia’s Constitutional Textualism: The Problem of Justice to Posterity

Abstract: Antonin Scalia defends his textualist approach to interpreting the Constitution by asserting that the purpose of the Constitution is to restrict the range of options open to future generations by enshrining institutional arrangements and practices in constitutional mandates or prohibitions. For this purpose to be fulfilled, justices of the Supreme Court must read the language of the Constitution according to its original meaning. We argue there is little reason to believe that Scalia’s understanding is correct. Neither the language of the Constitution nor the writings of Jefferson or Madison are consistent with Scalia’s interpretation. More importantly, the goal Scalia posits, of seeking to restrict the range of options open to future generations, is intergenerationally unjust.

4) Juliana Bidadanure: Short-sightedness in Youth Welfare Provision: the Case of RSA in France

Abstract: This paper reconstitutes and addresses critically the deontological and consequentialist arguments given by the French government to justify the denial of the national guaranteed minimum income support (RSA) to young people under 25 years old. The deontological arguments express a concern for distributive justice and suggest that young people do not deserve income support. The consequentialist arguments, on the other hand, emphasise social efficiency: they draw on the alleged negative outcomes that the extension of income support to young people would bring about. After analysing each argument, this paper concludes that the denial of RSA to young people is an illegitimate discrimination. It then proposes that we understand our duties towards young people through an account of prudence that reconciles both (1) concerns of distributive justice with concerns for social efficiency and (2) concerns for inter- and intragenerational justices.

Book Reviews

1) Ed Howker and Shiv Malik (2010): Jilted Generation. How Britain Has Bankrupted its Youth. London: Icon Books Ltd. 256 pages. ISBN: 1848311982. Price £8.99.

2) Pieter Vanhuysse and Achim Goerres (eds.) (2012): Ageing Populations in Post-industrial Democracies: Comparative studies of policies and politics. Routledge/ECPR Studies in European Political Science. Vol. 76. Abingdon: Routledge. 272 pages. ISBN: 978-0-415- 60382-9. Price: £75.00.

3) Eric A. Posner and David Weisbach (2010): Climate Change Justice. Princeton: Princeton University Press. 220 pages. ISBN: 978-0-691-13775-9. Price $27.95.

4) Janna Thompson (2009): Intergenerational Justice. Rights and Responsibilities in an Intergenerational Polity. New York: Routledge.191 pages. ISBN: 0415996287. Price £80.75.

Further Information

Publisher: The Foundation for the Rights of Future Generations (Stiftung für die Rechte zukünftiger Generationen) and
the Intergenerational Foundation.

Editors-in-Chief: James Wilhelm and Boris Kühn
Guest Editor: Antony Mason
Layout: Angela Schmidt, Obla Design
Print: LokayDruck, Königsberger Str. 3, 64354 Reinheim (

Editorial offices:

Foundation for the Rights of Future Generations, (Stiftung für die Rechte zukünfti-ger Generationen)
Mannsperger Str. 29
70619 Stuttgart
Tel.: +49(0)711 - 28052777
Fax.: +49(0)3212 - 2805277
E-Mail: This e-mail address is being protected from spam bots, you need JavaScript enabled to view it

The Intergenerational Foundation
19 Half Moon Lane
Herne Hill
London SE24 9JU
E-Mail: This e-mail address is being protected from spam bots, you need JavaScript enabled to view it