Time Biases: A Theory of Rational Planning and Personal Persistence

ISBN : 9780198812845

Meghan Sullivan
208 Pages
138 x 216 mm
Pub date
Jun 2018
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Should you care less about your distant future? What about events in your life that have already happened? How should the passage of time affect your planning and assessment of your life? Most of us think it is irrational to ignore the future but harmless to dismiss the past. But this book argues that rationality requires temporal neutrality. It draws substantially from work in the history of philosophy, economics, and social psychology. It is written in a lively and approachable way, using many real case studies of planning puzzles ranging from retirement saving to cryogenic brain freezing. It should be of interest to anyone curious about theories of rationality, the role time plays in our preferences, and the nature of personal identity.


1 The Received Wisdom
2 The Life Saving Argument
3 The Arbitrariness Argument
4 Personal Volatility
5 Preferences about the Past
6 The No Regrets Argument
7 The Arbitrariness Argument (Again)
8 Understanding Temporal Neutrality
9 Neutrality, Sunk Costs, and Commitment
10 Neutrality and Life Extension
11 Neutrality and Meaning

About the author: 

Meghan Sullivan is a Professor of Philosophy at Notre Dame and the Director of the University Philosophy Requirement. Sullivan's research tends to focus on philosophical problems concerning time, modality, rational planning and religious belief. Shehas published work in many of the leading generalist philosophy journals, including Nous, Ethics, and Philosophical Studies. She also regularly writes shorter public philosophy essays - including publications in The Huffington Post, Commonweal and First Things - and gives public philosophy talks.

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