Longtermism is the view that positively influencing the long-term future is one of the key moral priorities of our time. Longtermists generally focus on humans, and neglect animals. This is a mistake. In this paper I will show that the basic argument for longtermism applies to animals at least as well as it does to humans, and that the reasons longtermists have given for ignoring animals do not withstand scrutiny. Because of their numbers, their capacity for suffering, and our ability to influence their futures, animals ought to be a central concern of longtermists. Furthermore, I will suggest that longtermism is a fruitful framework for thinking about the wellbeing of animals, as it helps us to identify actions we can take now that have a reasonable chance of improving the wellbeing of animals over the very long term.
Bibliographical noteFor very valuable feedback on multiple drafts of this paper I would like to thank Guy Kahane, Jeff McMahan, and Oscar Horta. I would also like to thank Rhys Borchert, Adam Gibbons, Josh Milburn, Rhys Southan, and Yip Fai Tse.
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- animal ethics
- wild animal suffering