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Future Generations and the Limits of Representation

Future Generations and the Limits of Representation

Chapter:
(p.204) Chapter Nine Future Generations and the Limits of Representation
Source:
Creating Political Presence
Author(s):
Kerry H. Whiteside
Publisher:
University of Chicago Press
DOI:10.7208/chicago/9780226588674.003.0010

While the idea of representing future generations arises frequently in discussions of sustainable development, neither standard models nor constructivist accounts of representation apply convincingly to situations in which constituents do not yet exist. This is mainly due to the fact that it is difficult to imagine how future generations can hold their “present” representatives to account. Democratic concern for future generations is better regarded as a matter of deliberative institutional design. Jury-like forums could be integrated into a deliberative system as testing-grounds for future-regarding principles, as sustainability monitors of policy implementation, and as accountability agents in relation to “presentist” institutions. Such deliberative institutions and processes, however, should not just be consultative but carry real powers within the legislative process.

Keywords:   presentism, future-regarding, deliberative design

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