Concept Nest is a Website which aims to share important ideas that arise in philosophy, ethics, rational choice theory, and economics.

These fields often use technical concepts that can be forbidding to learn and master. This website collects simple illustrations and introductory videos, to make these important topics more widely understood.

The author is Toby Handfield, an academic at Monash University in Melbourne, Australia.

Temporal discounting

Economists and psychologists sometimes speak of temporal discounting: this is the idea that we regard things as less valuable, the longer we have to wait for them.

For instance, if I offered you a donut today, or a donut in a year's time, which would you prefer? In general, wouldn't most people prefer a donut sooner rather than later?

Another way to think about it is that events become more valuable (either more desirable, for good events, or more undesirable, for bad events) the closer they are to the present. A holiday next week is more valuable than a holiday in six months’ time. A visit to the dentist in the next hour is much worse than a visit to the dentist in a few weeks.

In the video below, we show how we can represent these phenomena precisely.

Retributivist punishment

Why are CO2 emissions “inefficient”?