In this week of the programme, you will meet your cohort and discuss the case for longtermism. Longtermism is the view that focussing on improving the long run future is the best way to have a large positive impact. It can be motivated by thinking that future people matter morally, there could be vast numbers of people in the future and there are things we can do to help those people.
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Exercise: How should we weigh the interests of future people?
One view that supports longtermism is that we should avoid privileging the interests of individuals based on when they might live.
In this week’s exercise we’ll be reflecting on some prompts to help you start considering what you think about this question, i.e. "Do the interests of people who are not alive yet matter as much as the interests of people living today?"
Spend a couple minutes thinking through each prompt, and note down your thoughts - feel free to jot down uncertainties, or open questions you have that seem relevant. We encourage you to note down your thought process, but feel free to simply report your intuitions and gut feelings.
Did you consider what the implications of these interventions would be for people in the world other than the people specified in the question? If not, would that change your answer?