CORDIS - Resultados de investigaciones de la UE

Foundations of Intergenerational Discounting

Final Report Summary - FINDISC (Foundations of Intergenerational Discounting)

Decisions about climate change, pension systems and other long-term issues affect not only the present but also future generations. In order to make these intergenerational decisions, public policy makers use the method of time discounting. In this method, costs and benefits of future generations are weighted less than those of the present one. There is widespread disagreement about intergenerational discounting, in particular about its social scientific foundations and ethical justification. This research project has developed new foundations for intergenerational discounting.

The research conducted in this project has developed an account of intergenerational discounting that envisages discounting factors as expressing judgments concerning the future, which can be expressed within an axiomatic structure. On this view, the task of the defender of intergenerational discounting is to motivate such structures conceptually. The main advantage of this work is that it moves beyond the standard approaches to intergenerational discounting, which works in the framework of the so-called discount-rate approach. The approach pursued in this project makes the judgments that go into intergenerational discounting much more explicit. On the basis of this theoretical work, existing approaches to intergenerational discounting can be compared against this standard. The results of this research can be applied to current debates in philosophy, economics, and public policy about intergenerational discounting.

The project was conducted by Dr. Conrad Heilmann, who is an Assistant Professor in Philosophy of Economics at the Erasmus Institute for Philosophy and Economics (EIPE) at the Faculty of Philosophy at Erasmus University Rotterdam. After studying economics, political science, and philosophy in Germany, France and the UK, Heilmann received a PhD in Philosophy from the London School of Economics in 2010. He was appointed as Assistant Professor at Erasmus University in 2011. The Marie Curie Career Integration Grant (CIG), awarded in 2011, has allowed him to move forward his research agenda on intergenerational discounting, starting in April 2012 through April 2016. Both the host institution and the researcher have greatly benefited from the grant scheme, with Dr. Heilmann being appointed on a permanent position, as well as a Co-Director of the Erasmus Institute for Philosophy and Economics (EIPE), and research activities related to the project having taken place there.