Democratic Leadership and the Problem of Future Generations From "Good Democratic Leadership: On Prudence and Judgment in Modern Democracies"

In a chapter in the 2014 volume Good Democratic Leadership: On Prudence and Judgment in Modern Democracies, Washington and Lee President Kenneth P. Ruscio examines the question of intergenerational justice in the chapter titled "Democratic Leadership and the Problem of Future Generations."

The book, published by Oxford University Press, is the result of a 2013 conference on "Good Democratic Leadership" at Yale University.

Writing in the introduction, the volume's editors, John Kane and Haig Patapan describe Ruscio's chapter:

"Our democratic political systems, says Ruscio, enable us to capture benefits for ourselves and transfer the costs to others, most notably to future generations. Current structures and assumptions exacerbate this problem rather than relieving it. Thus in an era when policy questions with a long time horizon are becoming more prevalent and pressing, Ruscio suggests it is time to offer a new normative argument to leaders and citizens, one that transcends normal calculations of interest. By considering what the current generation has inherited from the sacrifices of generations past, he argues, we may admit our obligations to, and need to sacrifice for, those that will come after us. Our task, he concludes, is to do as James Madison and even Adam Smith have done before us, which is to appeal to the "better angels of our nature."

The chapter is available on the Oxford Press Scholarship Online website: Democratic Leadership and the Problem of Future Generations.