Longtermism

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Further readingBibliography

Centre for Effective Altruism. Cause profile: The Long-Term Future

Beckstead, Nick. 2013. Nick (2013) On the overwhelming importanceOverwhelming Importance of shapingShaping the far future.Far Future, doctoral thesis, Rutgers University.
A philosophy dissertation that is likely the most thorough treatment of the subject.

Todd, Benjamin. 2013.Benjamin (2013) How important are future generations?, 80,000 Hours, August 19.
An examination of the decision-relevance of the long-term future.

Whittlestone, Jess (2017) The long-term future, Effective Altruism, November 16.

The Longtermism (Philosophy) tag is for posts about philosophical matters relevant to longtermism, meaning, roughly, "an ethicalthe view that what matters most about our actions is particularly concerned with ensuring their impact over the long-run outcomes go well" (term future.

When judging the value of an action, MacAskillfuture considerations). Longtermism may be highly relevant. Ethical theories according to which future people are moral patients, whose wellbeing is a relatively new idea, and people inof comparable importance to the EA movement currently work on a wide rangewellbeing of open questions relatedpresent-day people, imply that we ought to different facets of longtermism. 

For posts about whatconsider the long-term future might actually look like, seeof humanity, rather than just the next hundred years or so.

In fact, since it is possible that nearly everyone who will ever live has not yet been born, these ethical theories tend to imply that if there is anything that can be done to positively shape the long-term future, then this will be more valuable than any other possible action.

On the other hand, if it is impossible to influence the long-term future—for instance, if humans are doomed to go extinct within the next century, or if we simply lack sufficient foresight, then one should focus on the short- and medium-term impact of one’s actions, regardless of one’s ethical views on future potential people.

Related entries

existential risk | patient altruism

Further reading

Centre for Effective Altruism. Cause profile: The Long-Term Future. For posts about specific longtermist cause areas, see other tags such as

Beckstead, Nick. 2013. Existential RiskOn the overwhelming importance of shaping the far future..
A philosophy dissertation that is likely the most thorough treatment of the subject.

Todd, Benjamin. 2013. How important are future generations?
An examination of the decision-relevance of the long-term future.

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