Respect for others’ risk attitudes and the long-run future


When our choice affects some other person and the outcome is unknown, it has been argued that we should defer to their risk attitude, if known, or else default to use of a risk avoidant risk function. This, in turn, has been claimed to require the use of a risk avoidant risk function when making decisions that primarily affect future people, and to decrease the desirability of efforts to prevent human extinction, owing to the significant risks associated with continued human survival. I raise objections to the claim that respect for others’ risk attitudes requires risk avoidance when choosing for future generations. In particular, I argue that there is no known principle of interpersonal aggregation that yields acceptable results in variable population contexts and is consistent with a plausible ideal of respect for others’ risk attitudes in fixed population cases. GPI Working Paper No. 20-2022

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Andreas Mogensen
Oxford University


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