When talking about the future, I often encounter two (quite different) stories describing why the future might be good:
- Decisions will be made by people whose lives are morally valuable and who want the best for themselves. They will bargain amongst each other and create a world that is good to live in. Because my values are roughly aligned with their aggregate preferences, I expect them to create a rich and valuable world (by my lights as well as theirs).
- Some people in the future will have altruistic values broadly similar to my own, and will use their influence to create a rich and valuable world (by my lights as well as theirs).
Which of these pictures we take more seriously has implications for what we should do today. I often have object level disagreements which seem to boil down to disagreement about which of these pictures is more important, but rarely do I see serious discussion of that question. (When there is discussion, it seems to turn into a contest of political ideologies rather than facts.) Read the rest of this entry »