Philosophy Colloquium
Loren Lomasky
University of Virginia
Generational Injustice: How to Eat the Young (CANCELLED)

Philosophers are, of course, much concerned with issues of injustice. Vast literatures address wrongful incursions committed along lines of race, gender, sexual preference, religion and, of course, economic class. Comparatively little attention has been paid to impositions across generational lines, and where such unfairness has been invoked the story is often gotten backwards (“ageism”). This paper argues that during the preceding half century increased burdens have been placed on young cohorts for the direct benefit of the old, that almost every major social policy in recent years has further disadvantaged the young, and that this is not only an American problem but one that pervades the developed world. These injustices can be understood as failures of reciprocity, non-imposition, and democratic accountability. Unlike other perceived injustices, this one shows itself uniquely resistant to redress through liberal democratic institutions. I conclude by speculating that this immunity to melioration is not accidental but rather that the root cause of eating the young is liberal democracy itself.

Wednesday, March 12, 2014