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Intergenerational Equity

Environmental and Cultural Concerns

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Edited by Thomas Cottier, Shaheeza Lalani and Clarence Siziba

In Intergenerational Equity: Environmental and Cultural Concerns, the editors have produced an important, broad-based volume on intergenerational equity. The authors explore the principle of intergenerational equity in many dimensions, from the theoretical to the practical. While the primary focus is on intergenerational equity in the context of environmental resources and cultural heritage, the principle is also addressed in a broad array of other contexts. The final section of the volume considers intergenerational justice as it applies to indigenous peoples, genocide, migration, sovereign wealth funds and foreign investment. The chapters also provide a critical analysis of the issues and a consideration of the difficulties in implementing intergenerational equity.

The Corporation, Law and Capitalism

A Radical Perspective on the Role of Law in the Global Political Economy

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Grietje Baars

In The Corporation, Law and Capitalism, Grietje Baars offers a radical Marxist perspective on the role of law in the global political economy. Closing a major gap in historical-materialist scholarship, they demonstrate how the corporation, capitalism’s main engine from city-state and colonial times to the present multinational, is a masterpiece of legal technology. The symbiosis between law and capital becomes acutely apparent in the question of ‘corporate accountability’. Baars provides a detailed analysis of corporate human rights and war crimes trials, from the Nuremberg industrialists’ trials to current efforts. The book shows that precisely because of law’s relationship to capital, law cannot prevent or remedy the ‘externalities’ produced by corporate capitalism. This realisation will generate the space required to formulate a different answer to ‘the question of the corporation’, and to global corporate capitalism more broadly, outside of the law.

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Michael Rose

Abstract

There is a tension between democracy and sustainable development: While democracies are jurisdictionally limited by national borders and are committed to the current interests of voters, the concept of sustainable development transcends these spatial and temporal boundaries. Regarding the intertemporal dimension of sustainability, the urgent issue of intergenerational justice is philosophically well-addressed. But what is still missing is an elaborated conceptual and argumentative link both to political science and to real-world democratic politics. Adapting concepts of democratic theory, this paper establishes the conceptual foundation for analysing how to consider the interests of future generations in our present-day democratic institutions.

First, it is laid out what is meant by future generations, and why it is so difficult to take their interests into account today. Second, the so-called non-identity problem is discussed and rejected. Third, it is demonstrated that future generations will be causally and legally affected by the political decisions of today, and therefore, that ignoring the respective policy impacts violates the democratic all-affected principle. Fourth, with this it is shown that the issue of future generations is an issue of deficient political representation. Therefore, the concept of proxy representation is being developed to encompass not yet present constituents such as future generations. Based on this, a list of real-world “proxy representatives” of future generations is presented.

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Volume-editor Thomas Cottier, Shaheeza Lalani and Clarence Siziba