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date: 17 October 2019

Abstract and Keywords

The temporal locations of benefits and harms matter to us. People prefer past pain to future pain, even when this choice includes more total pain. But should the location of benefits and harms matter to us, all else being equal? This question is an ethical one. This chapter deals with defending temporal neutrality, the thesis that agents should attach no normative significance to the temporal location of benefits and harms, all else being equal. A powerful argument for temporal neutrality comes from prudence. However, prudence also assigns normative significance only to benefits and harms that occur to oneself, not other agents. It also suggests that the fact that one is later compensated for present sacrifice is crucial to assigning equal importance to all parts of an agent's life, but not equally to all agents.

Keywords: temporal neutrality, temporal location, prudence, benefits, harms

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