What We Owe The Future

The Sunday Times Bestseller

William MacAskill author


Publisher:Oneworld Publications

Published:7th Sep '23


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What We Owe The Future cover

How does morality change when we consider all the people who have not yet been born?

Should our priorities change when we consider all the lives yet to come?

The challenges we face are enormous. But we can still secure a positive future for our planet, and for everyone on it.

In What We Owe The Future, philosopher William MacAskill persuasively argues for longtermism, the idea that positively influencing the distant future is a moral priority of our time. It isn’t enough to mitigate climate change or avert the next pandemic. We can ensure that civilization would rebound if it collapsed; cultivate value pluralism; and prepare for a planet where the most sophisticated beings are digital and not human.

'Unapologetically optimistic and bracingly realistic, this is the most inspiring book on ‘ethical living’ I’ve ever read.' Oliver Burkeman, Guardian

‘A monumental event.' Rutger Bregman, author of Humankind

‘A book of great daring, clarity, insight and imagination. To be simultaneously so realistic and so optimistic, and always so damn readable… well that is a miracle for which he should be greatly applauded.’ Stephen Fry

'I was captivated by MacAskill’s rolling out of the possibilities of a longtermist approach to the now. It is vital to do as he does, to take ethics out of the safety of lecture-hall thought experiments, paradoxes and what-ifs and into the turbulent real world, where the dynamic winds of history blow and where is massing on the horizon that monstrous, swelling tsunami that we call the future. This is a book of great daring, clarity, insight and imagination. To be simultaneously so realistic and so optimistic, and always so damn readable… well that is a miracle for which he should be greatly applauded.' —Stephen Fry

'MacAskill is probably one of the most influential thinkers in the world.' —The Times, Best Books of 2022

‘A brilliant book that makes clear both how much is at stake when it comes to the long term, and the incredible opportunities we have to shape it. It has changed how I think about my time on earth.’ —Max Roser

‘This book is a monumental event. William MacAskill is one of the most important philosophers alive today, and this is his magnum opus.’ —Rutger Bregman, author of Humankind

'No living philosopher has had a greater impact upon my ethics than Will MacAskill. And much of the good I now do is the direct result of his influence. In What We Owe The Future, MacAskill has transformed my thinking once again, by patiently dismantling the lazy intuitions that rendered me morally blind to the interests of future generations. This is an altogether thrilling and necessary book.' —Sam Harris

'MacAskill’s case for “longtermism” – “the idea that positively influencing the longterm future is a key moral priority of our time” – is overwhelmingly persuasive. But it’s also unapologetically optimistic and bracingly realistic: this is by some distance the most inspiring book on “ethical living” I’ve ever read… a powerful argument in favour of freedom of speech and viewpoint diversity… The overall promise of this thrilling book is of a life both less burdened by ethical guilt – by beating yourself up over every choice of groceries or transportation – and much more effective at actually helping humanity.' —Guardian

'An optimistic look at the future that moved me to tears.' —Joseph Gordon-Levitt

'A profoundly optimistic exploration of the opportunities our descendants might enjoy, and the steps we might take to help them… there are plenty of insights and surprises along the way… MacAskill has thrust an important and neglected argument into the spotlight, while making it vivid and fun to read. He hopes that this book will change the world, and it might.' —Financial Times

'Remarkable… MacAskill’s command of factual detail is admirable. So are his lightness of prose and facility in explaining tricky arguments… Is our world better off for containing William MacAskill?... I say yes… MacAskill is a worthy heir to Derek Parfit’s philosophical legacy, adding deep factual research and accessible writing to a provocative line of thought.' —TLS

ISBN: 9780861546138

Dimensions: 198mm x 129mm x 27mm

Weight: unknown

368 pages