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Title: Social bias, not time bias
Authors: Greene, Preston
Keywords: Humanities::Philosophy
Issue Date: 2023
Source: Greene, P. (2023). Social bias, not time bias. Politics, Philosophy & Economics.
Project: RG134/19(NS)
Journal: Politics, Philosophy & Economics
Abstract: People seem to have pure time preferences about trade-offs concerning their own pleasures and pains, and such preferences contribute to estimates of people's individual time discount rate. Do pure time preferences also matter to interpersonal welfare trade-offs, including those concerning the welfare of future generations? Most importantly, should the intergenerational time discount rate include a pure time preference? Descriptivists claim that the intergenerational discount rate should reflect actual people's revealed preferences, and thus it should include a pure time preference. Prescriptivists claim that the intergenerational discount rate should be based on moral analysis, and thus they (often) claim that the rate of pure time preference should be zero. I argue that regardless of which view is correct, a focus on pure time preference is misplaced. First, the most plausible interpretation of descriptive preferences for intergenerational trade-offs is that people are socially biased and not time biased. Second, social bias is superior to time bias as a prescriptive reason to discount the welfare of future people. Third, recent advances in measuring social bias as a social discount rate make social bias a viable replacement for time bias in economic analyses of intergenerational welfare trade-offs.
ISSN: 1470-594X
DOI: 10.1177/1470594X231178506
Schools: School of Humanities 
Rights: © 2023 The Author(s). All rights reserved.
Fulltext Permission: none
Fulltext Availability: No Fulltext
Appears in Collections:SoH Journal Articles

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