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Rationality and Future Discounting

Topoi 39 (2):245-256 (2018)

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  1. Doing Less Than Best.Emma J. Curran - 2023 - Dissertation, University of Cambridge
    This thesis is about the moral reasons we have to do less than best. It consists of six chapters. Part I of the thesis proposes, extends, and defends reasons to do less than best. In Chapter One (“The Conditional Obligation”) I outline and reject two recent arguments from Joe Horton and Theron Pummer for the claim that we have a conditional obligation to bring about the most good. In Chapter Two (“Agglomeration and Agent-Relative Costs”) I argue that agent-relative costs can (...)
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  • The Normative Standard for Future Discounting.Craig Callender - 2021 - Australasian Philosophical Review 5 (3):227-253.
    This paper challenges the conventional wisdom dominating the social sciences and philosophy regarding temporal discounting, the practice of discounting the value of future utility when making decisions. Although there are sharp disagreements about temporal discounting, a kind of standard model has arisen, one that begins with a normative standard about how we should make intertemporal comparisons of utility. This standard demands that in so far as one is rational one discounts utilities at future times with an exponential discount function. Tracing (...)
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  • The Normative Standard for Future Discounting.Craig Callender - manuscript
    Exponential discounted utility theory provides the normative standard for future discounting as it is employed throughout the social sciences. Tracing the justification for this standard through economics, philosophy and psychology, I’ll make what I believe is the best case one can for it, showing how a non-arbitrariness assumption and a dominance argument together imply that discounting ought to be exponential. Ultimately, however, I don’t find the case compelling, as I believe it is deeply flawed. Non-exponential temporal discounting is often rational–indeed, (...)
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  • The only ethical argument for positive δ? Partiality and pure time preference.Andreas Mogensen - 2022 - Philosophical Studies 179 (9):2731-2750.
    I consider the plausibility of discounting for kinship, the view that a positive rate of pure intergenerational time preference is justifiable in terms of agent-relative moral reasons relating to partiality between generations. I respond to Parfit's objections to discounting for kinship, but then highlight a number of apparent limitations of this approach. I show that these limitations largely fall away when we reflect on social discounting in the context of decisions that concern the global community as a whole, such as (...)
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  • Social bias, not time bias.Preston Greene - 2024 - Politics, Philosophy and Economics 23 (1):100-121.
    People seem to have pure time preferences about trade-offs concerning their own pleasures and pains, and such preferences contribute to estimates of people's individual time discount rate. Do pure time preferences also matter to interpersonal welfare trade-offs, including those concerning the welfare of future generations? Most importantly, should the intergenerational time discount rate include a pure time preference? Descriptivists claim that the intergenerational discount rate should reflect actual people's revealed preferences, and thus it should include a pure time preference. Prescriptivists (...)
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