Non-longtermists, what would you like to be called. It's a category that is going to get used so we might as well have a name for it. And now is the time to select one you like.

New Answer
New Comment

21 Answers sorted by

Stop saying longtermist. It doesn't map well into people's understanding.

Say catastrophic risk, animal welfare and global health.

I love this. Just talk about the specific area you are into, rather than using generalisations. I would never use words like "neartermist" or "longtermist" outside EA circles anyway, as they lack any real meaning at all.

Evidence-based Effective Altruists

The founding premise of EA was that you need to weigh evidence.  This distinction is saying the longtermists have abandoned the founding premise of the movement.  

But many non-longtermists also care about future people, this hasn't seemed to stop longtermists from using a term that implies non-longtermists (used to be called short-termism!?) don't care about the future.
Dawn Drescher
Yeah, one could say that I’m a longtermist (though the term doesn’t fit well), and one key thing that caused that was gradual disillusionment with evidence-based anything over the course of a few years – because of the low-quality standard metrics of many fields, the low external validity of RCTs, the difficulty with running controlled experiments on anything that matters, complex cluelessness, the allure of highly leveraged foundational and policy interventions, etc. EA for me is about doing the most good. RCTs and such were just a tool that seemed promising to me at the time.
I think this is broadly a correct take. Longtermists care about expected value. Instead, classic EA is about following the evidence.

I reject the ideas that this needs a name. Bundling everything that is not longtermism under one category is not very sensical.

It's just not a good category. Like using "nant" as a word to describe everything that isn't a plant.

I prefer the term "non-longtermism" / "non-longtermist" if you must use a term for this concept.


Fine but sounds a bit like a pirate. 

Global Health and Wellbeing'ers = Glohwelbs :)

Doesn't capture all neartermists, but for me, person-affecting EA

Nathan Young
Maybe suggest it as an option.
Neil Natarajan
I confess I’m not entirely sure how you got there after reading the link post. Not that I disagree (I’m personally fine w/ being called a neartermist, I think it sounds good, but open to p much anything) “It seems to me a generally bad practice to take the positive part of the phrase a movement or philosophy uses to describe itself, and then negate that to describe people outside the movement” seems to imply that we shouldn’t be “not longtermist”s
I see what you mean. I guess my point is “neartermist” sounds like it’s a coherent ideology in opposition to longtermism. “Not longtermist” is not a banner to march behind or a team, it’s just a factual description (in lower case).

How well does this represent your views to people unfamiliar with it as a term in population ethics?

It might sound as if you're an EA only concerned about affecting persons (as in humans, or animals with personhood).

Very badly, probably, but I was assuming that most EAs will be familiar with the term.

On the other hand, this would exclude people whose main issue with longtermism is epistemic in nature. But maybe it’s too hard to come up with an acceptable catch-all term.

Keep-it-realists? (Sorry, for non serious comment)

I'm not upvoting, but I laughed.

Current Welfarists

I don't feel like rejecting Longtermism necessarily implies being a welfarist?


Only aim to impact the next hundred years/lifetime. Which is already optimistic. Limited to no more than 2-3 lifetimes. Maybe due to cluelessness/put your own oxygen mask before helping others for kinda thing 

Bonus points on this? Coincidentally, Centurions is also an 80's animated series about fighting against singularity brought by a human. Shows that Centurions also care about AI since it's within their lifetime or the next? 

Longdistancers (emphasizing neutrality wrt spatial distance from beneficiaries, vs temporal distance for longtermism)

Hyperbolic discounters

Ok this one made me laugh

This one actually made me laugh out loud. 

I'm not a neartermist myself, but I suggest the term "interpretable altruist". Interpretability is really important to how many people in this group carry out effective altruism, and it's important to me as well.

Thanks for these comments, they're bangers. 

Haha! I want to upvote because funny, but that would be unhelpful. xD

Sorted by Click to highlight new comments since: Today at 1:51 AM

The difficulty is in the name "longtermist".  It asserts ownership over concern for the future.

People who disagree with the ideas that carry this banner are also concerned for the future.

A general issue I see with the answers here is they assume opposition to longtermism necessarily need be philosophical. The case for actually doing anything different on longtermist grounds relies on a long chain of quasi-empirical speculation, and it seems perfectly coherent to me to just object to some induction along the way, and fall onto the side of (say) global health or economic development while still believing in something like aggregative utilitarianism. 

So I feel like a term would need to be more general and/or more focused on actions. 'Pragmatist' comes to mind, though it would need some distinction from the existing philosophical school. 'Altruistic pragmatist'? Maybe 'pragmatermist' if you don't mind neologisms (and if it doesn't turn out to etymologically imply something like 'end of facts' )

I think another part of the problem is that, for the same reasons, 'longtermism' has substantial mission creep/motte-and-bailey-itis. Like if I say I'm not a longtermist in EA circles, supporters will probably hit me with an argument for a totalising population ethic . But if I say I am one it feels like I'm supporting a bunch of academic research projects about which I might be quite sceptical. So maybe 'longtermism' is the concept that should be under the microscope, rather than its negation.

This was discussed before. See here.

Yes, though I couldn't see too many suggested names nor broad agreement.

I like evidence-based EA, but I’d also like to see some suggestions based on “feedback cycles.” I think the key thing that “neartermists” have that longtermists lack are informative feedback cycles.

Do current person-affecting ethicists become longtermist if we achieve negligible senescence? Will virtue-ethicists too if we can predict how their virtue will develop over time? Do development economists become longtermists if we develop Foundation-style Psychohistory? We don't have a singular term for "not a virtue ethicist" other than "non-virtue ethicist" and there's no commonality amongst nonlongtermists other than being the out-group to longtermists.

Neartermist = explicitly sets a high effective discount rate (either due to uncertainty or a pure rate of time preference) should not include non-consequentialists or people with types of person-affecting views resulting in a low concern for future generations.