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Discounting, Climate Change, and the Ecological Fallacy

Rendall, Matthew



Discounting future costs and benefits is often defended on the ground that our descendants will be richer. Simply to treat the future as better off, however, is to commit an ecological fallacy. Even if our descendants are better off when we average across climate change scenarios, this cannot justify discounting costs and benefits in possible states of the world in which they are not. Giving due weight to catastrophe scenarios requires energetic action against climate change.


Rendall, M. (2019). Discounting, Climate Change, and the Ecological Fallacy. Ethics, 129(3), 441-463.

Journal Article Type Article
Acceptance Date Sep 12, 2018
Publication Date 2019-04
Deposit Date Oct 3, 2018
Publicly Available Date May 1, 2020
Journal Ethics
Print ISSN 0014-1704
Electronic ISSN 1539-297X
Publisher University of Chicago Press
Peer Reviewed Peer Reviewed
Volume 129
Issue 3
Pages 441-463
Keywords Intergenerational justice; discounting; climate change; aggregation; risk
Public URL
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