the threat of Intergenerational Extortion: On the temptation to become the Climate Mafia, Masquerading as an Intergenerational Robin Hood’, Canadian Journal of Philosophy
- Gardiner, Stephen M.
- Special issue on intergenerational ethics, edited…
Existing institutions do not seem well-designed to address paradigmatically global, intergenerational and ecological problems, such as climate change. 1 In particular, they tend to crowd out intergenerational concern, and thereby facilitate a “tyranny of the contemporary” in which successive generations exploit the future to their own advantage in morally indefensible ways (albeit perhaps unintentionally). Overcoming such a tyranny will require both accepting responsibility for the future and meeting the institutional gap. I propose that we approach the first in terms of a traditional “delegated responsibility” model of the transmission of individual responsibility to collectives, and the second with a call for a global constitutional convention focused on future generations. In this paper, I develop the delegated responsibility model by suggesting how it leads us to understand both past failures and prospective responsibility. I then briefly defend the call for a global constitutional convention. 1. Elsewhere, I analyze climate change a “perfect moral storm” that involves all these dimensions (and more). Here I focus on the intergenerational aspect. See Gardiner 2011a.