Longtermism is the view that positively influencing the long-term future is a key moral priority of our time.[1][2]

A distinction is sometimes drawn between longtermism simpliciter and strong versions of that view.[3] While allowing that other forms of influence may also be important, strong longtermism holds that positively influencing the long-term future has dominant moral importance. This view has been defended by Hilary Greaves and William MacAskill,[4] and has precedents in the work of Nick Bostrom,[5][6] Nick Beckstead,[7][8] and others.

Further reading

Beckstead, Nick (2019) A brief argument for the overwhelming importance of shaping the far future, in Hilary Greaves & Theron Pummer (eds.) Effective Altruism: Philosophical Issues, Oxford: Oxford University Press, pp. 80–98.

MacAskill, William, Hilary Greaves & Elliott Thornley (2021) The moral case for long-term thinking, in Natalie Cargill & Tyler John (eds.) The Long View: Essays on Policy, Philanthropy, and the Long-Term Future, London: First, pp. 19–28.

Moorhouse, Fin (2021) Introduction to longtermism, Effective Altruism, January 27.

Longtermism. Online introduction to longtermism.

ethics of existential risk | existential risk | existential security | global health and wellbeing | institutions for future generations | long-range forecasting | macrostrategy | non-humans and the long-term future | patient altruism | trajectory change

  1. ^

    Ord, Toby (2020) The Precipice: Existential Risk and the Future of Humanity, London: Bloomsbury Publishing, p. 46.

  2. ^

    MacAskill, William (forthcoming) What We Owe the Future, New York: Basic Books.

  3. ^

    MacAskill, William (2019) “Longtermism”, Effective Altruism Forum, July 25.

  4. ^

    Greaves, Hilary & William MacAskill (2021) The case for strong longtermism, working paper.

  5. ^

    Bostrom, Nick (2003) Astronomical waste: The opportunity cost of delayed technological development, Utilitas, vol. 15, pp. 308–314.

  6. ^

    Bostrom, Nick (2013) Existential risk prevention as global priority, Global Policy, vol. 4, pp. 15–31.

  7. ^

    Beckstead, Nick (2013) On the Overwhelming Importance of Shaping the Far Future, doctoral thesis, Rutgers University.

  8. ^

    Beckstead, Nick (2019) A brief argument for the overwhelming importance of shaping the far future, in Hilary Greaves & Theron Pummer (eds.) Effective Altruism: Philosophical Issues, Oxford: Oxford University Press, pp. 80–98.