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“Rawlsian Contractualism and Future Generations: The Case of Winding Up”

6 April 2022 @ 12:30 – 13:45
Mode hybride - Carrefour des arts et des science, C-2017-02
Pavillon Lionel-Groulx 3150
rue Jean-Brillant Montréal (Québec) H3T 1N8

As part of the CRÉ ethics lunchtime, Emil Andersson will give us a presentation entitled “Rawlsian Contractualism and Future Generations: The Case of Winding Up”.

To participate via Zoom, it’s here.


Rawlsian contractualism is based upon a conception of society as a fair system of intergenerational cooperation. This conception, as formulated by Rawls, appears to imply that “winding up” – the act of intentionally bringing a just society to an end – would be unjust. However, the original position appears to result in principles that allow winding up. In this paper I discuss this problem, and consider the prospects of revising Rawlsian contractualism so that it better coheres with its underlying conception of fair intergenerational cooperation. The most plausible solution, I suggest, is to slightly revise the account of the reasoning of the parties in the original position. This is a revision based on the ideal of free and equal persons, and thus motivated by elements already present in Rawlsian contractualism.