What do we owe our future generations?
"What do we owe our future generations?"
by Professor Neil H. Buchanan
James J. Freeland Eminent Scholar Chair in Taxation at Levin College, University of Florida
Every decision that we make today can either directly or indirectly affect the interests of future generations, both those generations already born and those to be born in the decades and centuries after we are gone. Even if it is unlikely that many of our decisions (especially the smaller ones) will affect the general course of history, the possibility of doing so imposes a profound obligation on us at least to consider how our policy choices might affect our children, our grandchildren, and those who will follow. Not every policy choice must elevate the concerns of future generations over those of current generations, of course, but a conscious acknowledgement that we are making decisions for people who cannot speak for their own interests creates a moral imperative to give voice to the voiceless.
This project explores the content of that moral imperative, finding that we currently fall well short of our responsibilities in many areas but—surprisingly—that we might well be overemphasizing the interests of future generations in others. The fundamental problem that we face is not a future with too little prosperity but a future (and a present) in which prosperity is concentrated in far too few hands. The presentation thus emphasizes that an obligation to consider future people’s needs and desires can fit within well-known conceptions of distributive justice.
Because of these moral obligations that carry forth from generation to generation, concerns about the well-being of future generations loom large over discussions of public policy. From politicians to pundits, from analysts at serious policy think tanks to scholarly writers, the notion that current generations have obligations to the future and that we are failing to face up responsibly to those obligation prominently animates much current policy discussion.
15.00: Lecture by Neil H. Buchanan
15.45: Comments by discussants
16.15: Open discussion with audience
17.00: Post-seminar with lighter food and drinks
Assistant professor Yvette Lind, CBS Law at Copenhagen Business School
Professor Mats Tjernberg, Faculty of Law at Lund University
Associate professor Åsa Hansson, Lund University School of Economics and Management
Please register for the seminar by sending an e-mail to firstname.lastname@example.org.
Sign up before 31st of October.
Date: 4th of November, 2019
Venue: Porcelænshaven 18B, 1. floor (1.154), 2000 Frederiksberg (ten minute metro ride from the center of Copenhagen)