What Time-travel Teaches Us About Future-Bias

Philosophies 6 (38):38 (2021)
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Abstract

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 permissibility of future-bias is often held to be grounded in the structure of the temporal dimension. In this paper I consider several proposals for grounding the permissibility of such preferences and evaluate these in the light of the preferences we would have, and judge that we should have, in various time-travel scenarios. I argue that what we learn by considering these scenarios is that these preferences really have nothing to do with temporal structure. So if something grounds their permissibility, it is not temporal structure.

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Kristie Miller
University of Sydney

Citations of this work

Tensed Facts and the Fittingness of our Attitudes 1.Kristie Miller - 2022 - Philosophical Perspectives 36 (1):216-232.
Locating Temporal Passage in a Block World.Brigitte Everett, Andrew J. Latham & Kristie Miller - 2023 - Ergo: An Open Access Journal of Philosophy 10.
What Justifies Our Bias Toward the Future?Todd Karhu - 2023 - Australasian Journal of Philosophy 101 (4):876-889.

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References found in this work

Necessary existents.Timothy Williamson - 2002 - In Anthony O'Hear (ed.), Logic, Thought and Language. Cambridge University Press. pp. 233-251.
Thank Goodness That's over.A. N. Prior - 1959 - Philosophy 34 (128):12 - 17.
Against Time Bias.Preston Greene & Meghan Sullivan - 2015 - Ethics 125 (4):947-970.

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