Our investments in the future do not stop paying dividends when we die. Other beneficiaries may cash the cheques, but that does not represent a loss to ourselves, because our connections to them are not fundamentally different from our connections to ourselves during our remainder of our lifetimes. In that way, it’s as though someone else always cashes the cheques.
In practice, this means we need not hold all our future eggs in one basket. We have no reason to invest only in ourselves. It is no less rational to work towards goals that benefit other people, or the non-human world, than it is to work for our own benefit. They may be goals for places far outside our homes, and for times following our personal deaths. We can commit ourselves to goals at future times when there will be no one alive for whom we now feel full-blown self-concern. Like Terry Fox, we can engage with a future in which we will no longer exist. (more…)