Hi all, new to the forum, longtime observer in the wings. I've been trying to translate my anti-longtermist intuitions into meaningful arguments and would appreciate some feedback.
One promising line of thought, I think, involves considering the ratio of suffering to the amount of care available to deal with it.
As phrased in the Tube ad for What We Owe the Future, longtermism weights the damaging consequence of our actions equally regardless of their location in time. A cut foot is a cut foot whether it happens today or a hundred years in the future. However, I don't think the reverse is true. Preventing a cut foot today may be much more valuable than preventing one a hundred years from now, because if we don't do it now, no-one will. Whereas our future selves and our descendants have a hundred years to work on the future problem.
In other words, we should weight suffering today much more highly than suffering in the future, because only we can do something about it.
Moreover, we might plausibly guess that the proportion of humans living in extreme suffering will continue to decrease over time. And, as EA continues to gather momentum, more people will allocate spare income, wealth, and time to EA-linked causes, or to altruism and philanthropy more generally. These twin factors may mean that (setting x-risks temporarily aside), the ratio of "care" available to each hypothetical unit of suffering may grow enormously over time.
If that is true, then we should greatly prioritise eliminating suffering today and in the near future, and leave most of the caring for future generations to future generations.
I realise the argument depends on a host of unarticulated & tested premises, not least setting aside x-risks, which I think needs to be considered separately. But also keen to hear whether it's all been said, or dealt with, before? Does it ring true to you?