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Abstract

Over the last few years, there has been important foundational work formalizing the abstract principles of longtermism and (in the context of law) legal longtermism. One implicit assumption surrounding this work is that these abstract principles are not intuitive or widely endorsed. Here we present work from several recent empirical studies indicating that the abstract principles underlying legal longtermism–namely, that law can and should protect the long-term future much more than it does currently–are in fact widely endorsed by legal experts and laypeople, independent of demographic factors such as gender and politics. From a decision-relevance standpoint, these results indicate that the goal of legal longtermists should not be so much to convince people outside the longtermist community of the validity of the abstract principles of legal longtermism but to determine how best to transform those principles which they already deem to be valid into concrete action and, ultimately, effective legal policy.