FUTURE GENERATIONS AND DELIBERATIVE DEMOCRACY: WHAT AND HOW TO REPRESENT?
di Miklós Könczöl
Pázmány Péter Catholic University – Budapest


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Abstract

This essay discusses the representation of future people’s rights and interests in present political
deliberation. Future persons, it will be argued, cannot be regarded as holders of actual rights or
interests, which poses a serious obstacle to their being represented in the present. Nevertheless, future
generations do matter for members of the present generation, and it is this psychological fact that can
be relied upon when looking for a suitable institutionalised way of avoiding generational egoism in
public deliberation. What can, and should, be represented is, therefore, present people’s rights and
interest with regard to their posterity. The second part of the essay focuses on the form of this
representation. After an examination of recent proposals made by A. Dobson and K. S. Ekeli, it
will be argued that there need not be several representatives of the future who participate in
legislation in more or less the same way as ‘ordinary’ representatives do. What is important,
instead, is that concerns regarding posterity be directly formulated in most public discourses possible.