A Sequence Against Strong Longtermism

Seven months ago I posted A Case Against Strong Longtermism on the forum, and it caused a bit of a stir. I promised to respond to all the unaddressed comments, and as a result, have produced a four-part “sequence” of sorts.

The first and last post, A Case Against Strong Longtermism and The Poverty of Longtermism deal with longtermism specifically, while the middle two posts Proving Too Much and The Credence Assumption deal with bayesian epistemology, the iceberg-like structure keeping longtermism afloat.

The subsections are listed below and don’t need to be read in any particular order. Special thanks to Max Daniel, Jack Malte, Elliott Hornley, Owen Cotton Barratt, and Mauricio in particular, without whose criticism this sequence would not exist.

Now time to move on to other subjects...

  1. A Case Against Strong Longtermism

    1. Preliminaries

    2. The foundational assumptions of longtermism

    3. What’s all the fuss with expected values anyway?

    4. In expectation, the future is undefined

    5. We should prefer good things to happen sooner

    6. Conclusion

    7. Footnotes

  2. Proving Too Much

    1. It’s even worse than you thought: The Pasadena Game

    2. Shouting Natural Numbers

    3. Subject, Object, Instrument

    4. Probability: Laws Or Tools?

  3. The Credence Assumption

    1. On Paradox

    2. Cox’s theorem and the so-called “Laws” of rationality

    3. But what alternative do we have?

    4. The perfect rule

    5. An alternative: Evolutionary decision making

    6. Next time: Knowledge and Prediction

  4. The Poverty of Longtermism

    1. Overview

    2. The Lesson of the 20th Century

    3. Trend Is Not Destiny

      1. So what you’re saying is …

    4. Not-so-complex cluelessness

      1. The role of data and evidence in science

    5. Conclusion

    6. Appendix

      1. What’s going on with climate forecasts?

    7. Footnotes