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Marcos Picchio

Abstract

In this paper, I address a controversial aspect of Rawls’s treatment of the question of justice between generations: how the parties in the original position could be motivated to select Rawls’s preferred principle of intergenerational savings, which he dubs the just savings principle. I focus on the explanation found in his later work where he proposes that the correct savings principle is the principle that any generation would have wanted preceding generations to have followed. By expanding upon this explanation, I respond to the objection that this explanation disregards the perspective of the first generation. I demonstrate that this objection ceases to be a concern when a proper account of the parties’ reasoning is developed. What is notable about the explanation I defend is that it relies on the parties adopting maximax – not maximin – as a decision-making rule. Having established this intermediary conclusion, I depart with Rawls and consider what savings principle the parties would choose if given more than one choice. Ultimately, I argue that the parties would select a principle that Rawls would have undoubtedly rejected if presented to him at face value. This is because the principle of savings I argue would be selected would require continual economic growth over generations to increase upwards indefinitely.

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