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On the overwhelming importance of shaping the far future

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TitleInfo
Title
On the overwhelming importance of shaping the far future
Name (type = personal)
NamePart (type = family)
Beckstead
NamePart (type = given)
Nicholas
NamePart (type = date)
1985-
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Nicholas Beckstead
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author
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Temkin
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Larry
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Larry Temkin
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Advisory Committee
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chair
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McMahan
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Jeff
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Jeff McMahan
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Advisory Committee
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internal member
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Chang
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Ruth
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Ruth Chang
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Advisory Committee
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Parfit
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Derek
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Derek Parfit
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Advisory Committee
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outside member
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Rutgers University
Role
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degree grantor
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NamePart
Graduate School - New Brunswick
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school
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Text
Genre (authority = marcgt)
theses
OriginInfo
DateCreated (qualifier = exact)
2013
DateOther (qualifier = exact); (type = degree)
2013-05
Place
PlaceTerm (type = code)
xx
Language
LanguageTerm (authority = ISO639-2b); (type = code)
eng
Abstract (type = abstract)
In slogan form, the thesis of this dissertation is that shaping the far future is overwhelmingly important. More precisely, I argue that: Main Thesis: From a global perspective, what matters most (in expectation) is that we do what is best (in expectation) for the general trajectory along which our descendants develop over the coming millions, billions, and trillions of years. The first chapter introduces some key concepts, clarifies the main thesis, and outlines what follows in later chapters. Some of the key concepts include: existential risk, the world's development trajectory, proximate benefits and ripple effects, speeding up development, trajectory changes, and the distinction between broad and targeted attempts to shape the far future. The second chapter is a defense of some methodological assumptions for developing normative theories which makes my thesis more plausible. In the third chapter, I introduce and begin to defend some key empirical and normative assumptions which, if true, strongly support my main thesis. In the fourth and fifth chapters, I argue against two of the strongest objections to my arguments. These objections come from population ethics, and are based on Person-Affecting Views and views according to which additional lives have diminishing marginal value. I argue that these views face extreme difficulties and cannot plausibly be used to rebut my arguments. In the sixth and seventh chapters, I discuss a decision-theoretic paradox which is relevant to my arguments. The simplest plausible theoretical assumptions which support my main thesis imply a view I call fanaticism, according to which any non-zero probability of an infinitely good outcome, no matter how small, is better than any probability of a finitely good outcome. I argue that denying fanaticism is inconsistent with other normative principles that seem very obvious, so that we are faced with a paradox. I have no solution to the paradox; I instead argue that we should continue to use our inconsistent principles, but we should use them tastefully. We should do this because, currently, we know of no consistent set of principles which does better.
Subject (authority = RUETD)
Topic
Philosophy
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TitleInfo
Title
Rutgers University Electronic Theses and Dissertations
Identifier (type = RULIB)
ETD
Identifier
ETD_4704
PhysicalDescription
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electronic resource
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application/pdf
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text/xml
Extent
xii, 186 p. : ill.
Note (type = degree)
Ph. D.
Note (type = bibliography)
Includes bibliographical references
Note (type = vita)
Includes vita
Note (type = statement of responsibility)
by Nicholas Beckstead
Subject (authority = ETD-LCSH)
Topic
Future, The
Subject (authority = ETD-LCSH)
Topic
Ethics
Identifier (type = hdl)
http://hdl.rutgers.edu/1782.1/rucore10001600001.ETD.000068816
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TitleInfo
Title
Graduate School - New Brunswick Electronic Theses and Dissertations
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rucore19991600001
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NjNbRU
Identifier (type = doi)
doi:10.7282/T35M649T
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Rights

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The author owns the copyright to this work.
RightsHolder (type = personal)
Name
FamilyName
Beckstead
GivenName
Nicholas
Role
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RightsEvent
Type
Permission or license
DateTime (encoding = w3cdtf); (qualifier = exact); (point = start)
2013-04-15 11:57:22
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Name
Nicholas Beckstead
Role
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Affiliation
Rutgers University. Graduate School - New Brunswick
AssociatedObject
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License
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Author Agreement License
Detail
I hereby grant to the Rutgers University Libraries and to my school the non-exclusive right to archive, reproduce and distribute my thesis or dissertation, in whole or in part, and/or my abstract, in whole or in part, in and from an electronic format, subject to the release date subsequently stipulated in this submittal form and approved by my school. I represent and stipulate that the thesis or dissertation and its abstract are my original work, that they do not infringe or violate any rights of others, and that I make these grants as the sole owner of the rights to my thesis or dissertation and its abstract. I represent that I have obtained written permissions, when necessary, from the owner(s) of each third party copyrighted matter to be included in my thesis or dissertation and will supply copies of such upon request by my school. I acknowledge that RU ETD and my school will not distribute my thesis or dissertation or its abstract if, in their reasonable judgment, they believe all such rights have not been secured. I acknowledge that I retain ownership rights to the copyright of my work. I also retain the right to use all or part of this thesis or dissertation in future works, such as articles or books.
Copyright
Status
Copyright protected
Availability
Status
Open
Reason
Permission or license
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Technical

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ETD
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windows xp
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