Can we agree on a better name than ‘near-termist’? “Not-longermist”? “Not-full-longtermist”?

People who do not fully take on board all the tenets or conclusion of Longtermism are often called “Neartermist”.

But to me this seems a bit negative and inaccurate.

As Alexander Berger said on 80k

I think the philosophical position that it’s better to help people sooner rather than later does not seem to have very many defenders.


“Non-longtermists” have various reasons to want to give some of their resources to help people and animals today or in the near future. A short list might include

  • non-total-utilitarian population ethics

    • E.g., Person-affecting views[2] and empirical calculation that ‘the most good we can do for people/​animals sure to exist is likely to be right now’

  • moral uncertainty about the above

  • a sense of special obligation to help contemporaneous people

  • Deep empirical uncertainty about the ability to help people in the future (or even prevent extinction) effectively[3]

It seems to me a generally bad practice to take the positive part of the phrase a movement or philosophy uses to describe itself, and then negate that to describe people outside the movement.


  1. Pro-choice/​Anti-choice, Pro-life/​Anti-life

  2. “Black lives matter”/​”Black lives don’t matter”

  3. “Men’s rights”/​”Men don’t have rights” (or “anti-men’s-rights”)

In case 1 each movement has a name for itself, and we usually use this as a label. On the other hand “not pro-choice” or “anti-abortion’ might be more accurate.

In case 2 the “Blue lives matter” is often taken as the opposition to Black Lives Matter, but this goes in a different direction. I think many/​most people would be better described as “non-BLM”, implying they don’t take on board all the tenets and approaches of the movement, not that they literally disagree with the statement.

In case 3, the opposition is a bit silly. I think it’s obvious that we should call people who are not in the MRM and don’t agree with it simply ‘not-MRM’.

Similarly “not longtermist” or some variation on this makes sense to me.[4]

  1. ↩︎

    I don’t agree with all of Berger’s points though; to me doubts about total utilitarian population ethics is one of the main reasons to be uncertain about longtermism.

  2. ↩︎

    Alt: A welfare function of both average utility and N

  3. ↩︎

    FWIW, personally, I think it is pretty obvious that there are some things we can do to reduce extinction risks.

  4. ↩︎

    Berger suggested ‘evident impact’ or ‘global health and wellbeing’. But these don’t really work as a shorthand to describe people holding this view. They also seem a bit too specific: e.g., I might focus on other near-term causes and risks that don’t fit well into GH&W, perhaps presentanimal-welfare gets left out of this. ‘Evident impact’ is also too narrow: that’s only 1 of the reasons I might not be full-LT-ist, and I also could be focusing on near-term interventions that aim at less-hard-to-measure systemic change.