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On Whether To Prefer Pain to Pass

Ethics 121 (3):521-537 (2011)

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  1. Future bias in action: does the past matter more when you can affect it?Andrew James Latham, Kristie Miller, James Norton & Christian Tarsney - 2020 - Synthese 198 (12):11327-11349.
    Philosophers have long noted, and empirical psychology has lately confirmed, that most people are “biased toward the future”: we prefer to have positive experiences in the future, and negative experiences in the past. At least two explanations have been offered for this bias: belief in temporal passage and the practical irrelevance of the past resulting from our inability to influence past events. We set out to test the latter explanation. In a large survey, we find that participants exhibit significantly less (...)
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  • Does the Temporal Asymmetry of Value Support a Tensed Metaphysics?Alison Fernandes - 2019 - Synthese 198 (5):3999-4016.
    There are temporal asymmetries in our attitudes towards the past and future. For example, we judge that a given amount of work is worth twice as much if it is described as taking place in the future, compared to the past :796–801, 2008). Does this temporal value asymmetry support a tensed metaphysics? By getting clear on the asymmetry’s features, I’ll argue that it doesn’t. To support a tensed metaphysics, the value asymmetry would need to not vary with temporal distance, apply (...)
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  • Rationality and Success.Preston Greene - 2013 - Dissertation, Rutgers University - New Brunswick
    Standard theories of rational decision making and rational preference embrace the idea that there is something special about the present. Standard decision theory, for example, demands that agents privilege the perspective of the present (i.e., the time of decision) in evaluating what to do. When forming preferences, most philosophers believe that a similar focus on the present is justified, at least in the sense that rationality requires or permits future experiences to be given more weight than past ones. In this (...)
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  • Yet Another “Epicurean” Argument.Peter Finocchiaro & Meghan Sullivan - 2016 - Philosophical Perspectives 30 (1):135-159.
    In this paper, we develop a novel version of the so-called Lucretian symmetry argument against the badness of death. Our argument has two features that make it particularly effective. First, it focuses on the preferences of rational agents. We believe the focus on preferences eliminates needless complications and emphasizes the urgency to respond to the argument. Second, our argument utilizes a principle that states that a rational agent's preferences should not vary in arbitrary ways. We argue that this principle underlies (...)
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  • Two Models of Agent-Centered Value.Jamie Dreier - 2020 - Res Philosophica 97 (3):345-362.
    The consequentializing project relies on agentcentered value, but many philosophers find the idea incomprehensible or incoherent. Discussions of agent-centered value often model it with a theory that assigns distinct better-than rankings of states of affairs to each agent, rather than assigning a single ranking common to all. A less popular kind of model uses a single ranking, but takes the value-bearing objects to be properties rather than states of affairs. There are rhetorical, presentational differences between these kinds of models, but (...)
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  • What Time-Travel Teaches Us About Future-Bias.Kristie Miller - 2021 - Philosophies 6 (38):38.
    Future-biased individuals systematically prefer positively valenced events to be in the future (positive future-bias) and negatively valenced events to be in the past (negative future-bias). The most extreme form of future-bias is absolute future-bias, whereby we completely discount the value of past events when forming our preferences. Various authors have thought that we are absolutely future-biased (Sullivan (2018:58); Parfit (1984:173) and that future-bias (absolute or otherwise) is at least rationally permissible (Prior (1959), Hare (2007; 2008), Kauppinen (2018), Heathwood (2008)). The (...)
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  • Options and Diachronic Tragedy.Brian Hedden - 2015 - Philosophy and Phenomenological Research 90 (2):423-451.
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  • Prudence and Responsibility to Self in an Identity Crisis.Adam Cureton - 2016 - Res Philosophica 93 (4):815-841.
    A comprehensive theory of rational prudence would explain how a person should adjudicate among the conflicting interests of her past, present, future and counterfactual selves. For example, when a person is having an identity crisis, perhaps because she has suddenly become disabled, she may be left with no sense of purpose to keep her going. In her despondent state, she may think it prudent to give up on life now even if she would soon adopt a different set of values (...)
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  • Utility Cascades.Max Khan Hayward - 2020 - Analysis 80 (3):433-442.
    Utility cascades occur when a utilitarian’s reduction of support for an intervention reduces the effectiveness of that intervention, leading the utilitarian to further reduce support, thereby further undermining effectiveness, and so on, in a negative spiral. This paper illustrates the mechanisms by which utility cascades occur, and then draws out the theoretical and practical implications. Theoretically, utility cascades provide an argument that the utilitarian agent should sometimes either ignore evidence about effectiveness or fail to apportion support to effectiveness. Practically, utility (...)
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  • Time Biases.Alan H. Goldman - 2020 - Analysis 80 (2):388-397.
    Despite judging the central controversial thesis of this book false and arguments for it ultimately unconvincing, I highly recommend the book for its many philosophical virtues, prominent among them being breadth and clarity.1 1 Sullivan addresses all the major issues surrounding various time biases that decision-makers exhibit. Writing on topics that can often become overly technical, she spells her arguments out in the clearest prose, making the book ideal as an introduction to this interesting subdivision of practical reason, but also, (...)
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  • Future-Bias and Practical Reason.Tom Dougherty - 2015 - Philosophers' Imprint 15.
    Nearly everyone prefers pain to be in the past rather than the future. This seems like a rationally permissible preference. But I argue that appearances are misleading, and that future-biased preferences are in fact irrational. My argument appeals to trade-offs between hedonic experiences and other goods. I argue that we are rationally required to adopt an exchange rate between a hedonic experience and another type of good that stays fixed, regardless of whether the hedonic experience is in the past or (...)
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  • The Development of Asymmetries in Past and Future Thinking.Patrick Burns, Teresa McCormack, Agnieszka Jaroslawska, Áine Fitzpatrick, Jemma McGourty & Eugene M. Caruso - 2019 - Journal of Experimental Psychology: General 148 (2):272-288.
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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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  • Existential Terror.Ben Bradley - 2015 - The Journal of Ethics 19 (3-4):409-418.
    Many of us feel existential terror when contemplating our future nonexistence. I examine several attempts to rationally justify existential terror. The most promising of these appeals to the effects of future nonexistence on the meaningfulness of our lives. I argue that even this justification fails, and therefore existential terror is irrational.
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  • Agency, Experience, and Future Bias.Antti Kauppinen - 2018 - Thought: A Journal of Philosophy 7 (4):237-245.
    Most of us are hedonically future-biased: other things being equal, we prefer pains to be in the past and pleasures to be in the future. Recently, various authors have argued that future bias is irrational, and that we should be temporally neutral instead. I argue that instead of temporal neutrality, the putative counterexamples and the rationales offered for them only motivate a more narrow principle I call Only Action Fixes Utility: it is only when you act on the basis of (...)
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  • Time-Biases and Rationality: The Philosophical Perspectives on Empirical Research About Time Preferences.Tomasz Żuradzki - 2016 - In Jerzy Stelmach, Bartosz Brożek & Łukasz Kurek (eds.), The Emergence of Normative Orders. Copernicus Press. pp. 149-187.
    The empirically documented fact is that people’s preferences are time -biased. The main aim of this paper is to analyse in which sense do time -biases violate the requirements of rationality, as many authors assume. I will demonstrate that contrary to many influential views in psychology, economy and philosophy it is very difficult to find why the bias toward the near violates the requirements rationality. I will also show why the bias toward the future violates the requirements of rationality in (...)
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  • Dynamic Choice.Chrisoula Andreou - 2008 - Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy.
    Sometimes a series of choices do not serve one's concerns well even though each choice in the series seems perfectly well suited to serving one's concerns. In such cases, one has a dynamic choice problem. Otherwise put, one has a problem related to the fact that one's choices are spread out over time. This survey reviews some of the challenging choice situations and problematic preference structures that can prompt dynamic choice problems. It also reviews some proposed solutions, and explains how (...)
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  • Thank Goodness That’s Newcomb: The Practical Relevance of the Temporal Value Asymmetry.Christian Tarsney - 2017 - Analysis 77 (4):750-759.
    I describe a thought experiment in which an agent must choose between suffering a greater pain in the past or a lesser pain in the future. This case demonstrates that the ‘temporal value asymmetry’ – our disposition to attribute greater significance to future pleasures and pains than to past – can have consequences for the rationality of actions as well as attitudes. This fact, I argue, blocks attempts to vindicate the temporal value asymmetry as a useful heuristic tied to the (...)
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