In Reasons and Persons, Parfit invites us to imagine a character called 'Proximus' who cares more about the nearer future. This 'bias towards the near' means that he would wholeheartedly prefer to undergo intense pain later rather than a mild pain now. This seems irrational. We may advocate temporal neutrality in general, and so think that "mere differences in timing... cannot have rational significance." I agree with this, so in this post I want to address a couple of objections Parfit makes to this view.
Parfit's basic strategy is to compare the bias towards the near with two other temporal biases we have. The bias towards the future is seen in our tendency to be relieved when bad things are past. And the bias towards the present is our tendency to care especially about the pain we are now experiencing. Parfit claims that temporal neutrality requires us to denounce both these tendencies, but such denunciation seems crazy. So we should conclude that mere differences in timing can be significant after all. His most compelling example is of "the mounting excitement that we feel as some good event apporaches the present -- as in the moment in the theatre when the house-lights dim." Such excitement seems perfectly reasonable, yet - Parfit claims - it is an instance of the bias towards the near. Shouldn't temporal neutrality require us to be just as excited about distant pleasures?
Well, no. We should be more careful in understanding the scope of the temporal neutralist's claims. Obviously the claim is not that timing never matters for anything: if a bomb is about to explode, better to start running sooner rather than later! For similar reasons, it makes more sense to fear the explosion when the risk is in the future rather than the past. It's perfectly reasonable to attend more to present events, and to be excited about those that will very soon be present, etc. The neutralist need not deny any of this. Their claim is simply that one's preferences should not involve any temporal bias, or time-inconsistency. Note that temporally responsive feelings are perfectly endorsable from a timeless perspective. I do not later regret feeling excitement before the show, but I would regret choosing a lesser nearby good over a greater distant one. That's a revealing difference.
If we recast Parfit's proposed biases in terms of preferences (e.g. for the bias towards the present, say you would forsake greater future benefits in order to obtain a small boost of pleasure right now), they no longer seem any more defensible than Proximus' bias towards the near. So I don't think Parfit has any good objection to temporal neutrality after all.