The ethics of existential risk concerns the questions of how bad an existential catastrophe would be, how good it is to reduce existential risk, precisely why those things are as bad or good as they are, and how this differs between different specific existential risks. There are a range of different perspectives on these questions, and these questions have implications for how much to prioritise reducing existential risk and which specific risks to prioritise reducing.

In The Precipice, Toby Ord discusses five different "moral foundations" for assessing the value of existential risk reduction, depending on whether emphasis is placed on the future, the present, the past, civilizational virtues or cosmic significance (Ord 2020).

The future

In one of the earliest discussions of the topic, Derek Parfit offers the following thought experiment (Parfit 1984: 453–454):...

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