Future Generations and Deliberative Democracy: What and How to Represent?
8 Pages Posted: 27 Aug 2014 Last revised: 28 Aug 2014
Date Written: August 26, 2014
This essay discusses the representation of future people’s rights and interests in present political deliberation. Future persons, it will be argued, cannot be regarded as holders of actual rights or interests, which poses a serious obstacle to their being represented in the present. Nevertheless, future generations do matter for members of the present generation, and it is this psychological fact that can be relied upon when looking for a suitable institutionalised way of avoiding generational egoism in public deliberation. What can, and should, be represented is, therefore, present people’s rights and interest with regard to their posterity. The second part of the essay focuses on the form of this representation. After an examination of recent proposals made by A. Dobson and K. S. Ekeli, it will be argued that there need not be several representatives of the future who participate in legislation in more or less the same way as 'ordinary' representatives do. What is important, instead, is that concerns regarding posterity be directly formulated in most public discourses possible.
Keywords: future generations, representation, deliberative democracy
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