Consequentialists that value animal welfare must admit that future beings matter is some relevant way. But if the future mattersmorally, its size should dominate our moral concerns. In this paper, I consider two views in population ethics: person-affecting views and total utilitarianism. I discuss arguments between those, and examine the implications of taking a metanormative perspective: what to do when one is uncertain between which of these two is correct. I conclude that reducing the risk of astronomical amountsof suffering looks very good on both theories, and whether it is the best thing to do depends on some assumptions, and how strongly one is convinced of either theory.
I wrote this for a Tutorial on normative uncertainty. The course led me to finally commit myself to longtermism, because you don’t need to believe it for 100%.