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Title (Primary) Discounting: reflections on the scientific and ethical dimensions of the debate
Author Unnerstall, H.;
Journal International Journal of Sustainable Development
Year 2003
Department UPR; OEKUS;
Volume 6
Issue 1
Language englisch;
Keywords discounting; empirical basis of discounting; epistemology of discounting; intergenerational justice; intragenerational justice; intertemporal justice; meta-evaluation.
Abstract Discounting is still a highly contested element of cost–benefit analysis. From an epistemological point of view, three levels of arguments must be distinguished: the empirical, the conceptual and the ethical level. On the conceptual level, discounting turns out to be a hypothesis that has to be justified empirically. This approach requires a method for a direct (utility-)evaluation of future cash-flows in order to prove that discounting correctly represents changes of utility-values in time. Reacting on ethical criticism, economic theory tends to draw a sharp line between intra- and inter-generational discounting. This is ethically unacceptable as the composition of any generation is arbitrary. Therefore, many intra-generational problems can be reformulated as inter-generational problems and vice versa. There can be only one consistent theory of inter-temporal justice.

 

ID 5258
Persistent UFZ Identifier http://www.ufz.de/index.php?en=20939&ufzPublicationIdentifier=5258
Unnerstall, H. (2003):
Discounting: reflections on the scientific and ethical dimensions of the debate
International Journal of Sustainable Development 6 (1), 54 - 69