I think there’s a danger of getting caught up in the mathematics. I’m not sure we can assign value to any period of our lives in terms of an arbitrarily long causal chain stretching into the future. But even if we can, we shouldn’t take equal credit for every ethical action in the chain.
If we determine value in terms of counterfactuals there will be a damping factor that ensures that events near to your first 2-years of EA activity will be highly counterfactually dependent on your actions, but those further away will not be.
Assuming the chain leaks counterfactual dependence faster than can be accommodated by new generations of EAs, year 3 of your EA activity, in which you convert two further individuals, will in fact be more valuable than years 1 and 2, in which you convert only one.
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Like you, I think that counterfactual dependence is transitive (although the article you mentioned is interesting!) All I need is a) for there to be degrees of dependence, and b) for ‘value’ or ‘credit’ to be assigned accordingly.
The chain you describe is fairly short, but as it becomes longer, the world in which one of the members would have become an EA regardless of your actions becomes closer and closer to the actual one (even if it is not the closest world).
You’re right, it’s getting a bit abstract! Maybe it’s better to put this way - I don’t think that the night you conceive a child borrows much value from their actions when they grow up. It certainly borrows less, if any, from the actions of your grandchildren and great-grandchildren.
In some technical sense it’s all counterfactually dependent and causally related, but that seems quite a departure from what we mean when we say ‘that was the most valuable/important time in my life’.