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Faculty of Economics

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Dasgupta, P.

The ethics of intergenerational distribution: response and reply to John E. Roemer

Environmental and Resource Economics

Vol. 50 no. 4 (2011)

Abstract: Recent concerns among economists over global climate change have given rise to an uneven literature on intergenerational welfare economics. Environmental & Resource Economics in its March 2011 issue published a paper by the political philosopher John E. Roemer that contains not only errors of interpretation of what others have written, but also misunderstandings of settled matters. I respond and reply to Roemer by re-exploring the foundations of intergenerational welfare economics. I show that ethical pluralism gives rise to a very different framework for thinking about the subject than the one Roemer presents in his paper. Moreover, his dismissal of much of what welfare economists write on such concepts as social discount rates has as its source an utterly narrow view of the contexts in which economic evaluation is undertaken in the contemporary world.

Author links: Partha Dasgupta  

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