Experimental longtermist jurisprudence

Abstract

Recent scholarship has revealed a seemingly stark mismatch between the value of future generations and the lack of protection afforded to them under present legal systems. Although climate change, pandemics, nuclear war, and artificial intelligence impose greater threats to the future of humanity than any previous risk (Ord, 2020), legal systems fail to grant future generations democratic representation in the legislature, standing to bring forth a lawsuit in the judiciary, and serious consideration in cost-benefit analyses in the executive. What is the source of this disconnect, is it justified, and—to the extent that it is not justified—what might one do about it?

Here we discuss how a new research field within experimental jurisprudence—which we refer to as experimental longtermist jurisprudence—might help address these questions and in turn help determine the appropriate level and form of legal protection to future generations.