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date: 27 February 2020

Abstract and Keywords

This chapter surveys some of the issues that arise in policymaking when the well-being of future generations must be taken into account. It considers the different sorts of discounting that may be applied to future well-being, and considers whether any of them are permissible. It next argues that policymakers cannot properly ignore the effects that different policies have on the number of future people who will come into existence. These effects are pervasive, and the chapter goes on to consider what theoretical basis is available for setting a value on them. Finally it describes the “nonidentity effect,” through which a choice of policy affects the identity of people born in the future, and examines what implications it has for intergenerational justice and for the Pareto principle.

Keywords: discounting, prioritarianism, utilitarianism, population ethics, value of population, intuition of neutrality, neutral level, nonidentity, Pareto principle

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