What We Owe the Future

Front Cover
Basic Books, Aug 16, 2022 - Philosophy - 352 pages
2 Reviews
Reviews aren't verified, but Google checks for and removes fake content when it's identified

An Instant New York Times Bestseller

“This book will change your sense of how grand the sweep of human history could be, where you fit into it, and how much you could do to change it for the better. It's as simple, and as ambitious, as that.”

—Ezra Klein

An Oxford philosopher makes the case for “longtermism” — that positively influencing the long-term future is a key moral priority of our time.

The fate of the world is in our hands. Humanity’s written history spans only five thousand years. Our yet-unwritten future could last for millions more — or it could end tomorrow. Astonishing numbers of people could lead lives of great happiness or unimaginable suffering, or never live at all, depending on what we choose to do today.
In What We Owe The Future, philosopher William MacAskill argues for longtermism, that idea that positively influencing the distant future is a key moral priority of our time. From this perspective, it’s not enough to reverse climate change or avert the next pandemic. We must ensure that civilization would rebound if it collapsed; counter the end of moral progress; and prepare for a planet where the smartest beings are digital, not human.
If we make wise choices today, our grandchildren’s grandchildren will thrive, knowing we did everything we could to give them a world full of justice, hope and beauty.


What people are saying - Write a review

Reviews aren't verified, but Google checks for and removes fake content when it's identified

What We Owe the Future

User Review  - Publishers Weekly

In this sobering treatise, University of Oxford philosophy professor MacAskill (Doing Good Better) argues that improving humanity’s long-term future is a “key moral priority of our time.” The author ... Read full review

User Review - Flag as inappropriate

Several good ideas and helpful perspectives as we think about the longterm future and what is to come. Helps provide a unique perspective.


You Can Shape the Course of History
Moral Change
Value LockIn
Is It Good to Make Happy People?
Will the Future Be Good or Bad?
What to

Other editions - View all

Common terms and phrases

About the author (2022)

William MacAskill is an associate professor in philosophy and senior research fellow at the Global Priorities Institute, University of Oxford. At the time of his appointment, he was the youngest associate professor of philosophy in the world. He has focused his research on moral uncertainty, effective altruism, and future generations. He also cofounded the nonprofits Giving What We Can, the Centre for Effective Altruism, and Y Combinator–backed 80,000 Hours, which together have moved over $300 million to effective charities. He is the author of Doing Good Better and lives in Oxford, England.

Bibliographic information