Toward a Capability-Based Account of Intergenerational Justice

Alex M. Richardson

Resumo


In this paper, I will draw on the capabilities approach to social justice and human development as advanced, among others, by Martha Nussbaum, and seek to provide some theoretical resources for better understanding our obligations to future persons. My argumentative strategy is as follows: First, I’ll briefly reconstruct a capabilities approach to justice, examining this sort of view’s normative foundations and methodology. Using Nussbaum’s capabilities list as a basis, I will argue that various social and environmental functions which are threatened by climate change are crucial with respect to enabling morally and politically central capabilities for both current and future people. Here, I will draw on recent work by Breena Holland to establish the notion of a sustainable climate system as a necessary precondition for the enablement and protection of these entitlements. Then, I’ll extend this strategy to argue that the capabilities approach provides a uniquely useful threshold conception of harm to inform our thinking about our relationship to our posterity. It is my hope that the capabilities approach so applied can give us a novel way of understanding our responsibilities toward future people in a time where such an understanding is both unfortunately lacking and increasingly dire. Finally, I will discuss some implications of a capability-based account in the intergenerational context and some justifications for applying the approach in this way. Ultimately, I submit that this sort of view seems more well-fitted to this context than other approaches (e.g., contractarianism and consequentialism), and that it offers a unique vehicle for understanding our relations and obligations to future people.

Palavras-chave


Capabilities approach; Political philosophy; Intergenerational justice; Harm; Climate change

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DOI: https://doi.org/10.5007/1677-2954.2018v17n3p363

          

 

 

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