A Transgenerational Difference Principle

Daniel Attas*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingChapterpeer-review

15 Scopus citations


Can Rawls's theory provide a framework for assessing obligations to future generations? Extending the veil of ignorance so that participants in the original position do not know to which generation they belong appears to fail in this endeavour. Earlier generations cannot improve their situation by 'cooperating' with later generations. Such circumstances, lacking mutuality, leave no room for an agreement or contract. Nevertheless, the original position can be reconstructed so as to model relations of mutuality between generations even if these are absent from the real world. This chapter assesses earlier attempts to do this and provides a rationale for viewing the just savings principle as a clause in the full formulation of the difference principle.

Original languageAmerican English
Title of host publicationIntergenerational Justice
PublisherOxford University Press
ISBN (Electronic)9780191712319
ISBN (Print)9780199282951
StatePublished - 1 Sep 2009

Bibliographical note

Publisher Copyright:
© The several contributors 2009. All rights reserved.


  • Difference principle
  • Mutuality
  • Rawls
  • Saving
  • Self-respect


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