'The earth belongs to the living': Thomas Jefferson and the problem of intergenerational relations

T. Ball

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

20 Scopus citations

Abstract

The contention that future people have interests and rights that we are obligated to respect is not new and did not originate in modern 'environmentalist' sensibilities. It received an early airing two centuries ago from thinkers as disparate as Kant, Burke, and Thomas Jefferson. I deal in the main with Jefferson's claim that 'the earth belongs in usufruct to the living' and its implications for protecting posterity's interests, and secondarily with ideas about intergenerational relations in Kant, Burke, and Paine. That these ideas had their origins in a decidedly different political context - namely, in reactions to and reflections upon the French Revolution - does not preclude their being recycled and reused in our own day for quite different purposes.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)61-77
Number of pages17
JournalEnvironmental Politics
Volume9
Issue number2
DOIs
StatePublished - Jan 1 2000

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Environmental Science (miscellaneous)
  • Sociology and Political Science

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