Latest Publication in Uehiro Lecture Series

Why Worry About Future Generations?

We are pleased to announce that the Professor Samuel Scheffler's book 'Why Worry About Future Generations?' is due for publication by OUP on 26 April, and is available to order now.

The book, based on his 2015 lectures, is the latest publication in the Uehiro Series in Practical Ethics.  Further details, including links to audio recordings of the lectures, can be found here.

book cover of why worry about future generations written by Samuel Scheffler

Why Worry About Future Generations?
Samuel Scheffler
Uehiro Series in Practical Ethics

  • An original and thought-provoking exploration of an urgent question that concerns us all
  • Likely to change the way the reader thinks about herself in relation to the future of humanity
  • Short, lively, and engaging - accessible to readers beyond philosophy
  • Builds on the themes of the author's widely-praised book Death and the Afterlife (2013)
  • Scheffler's view has significant implications for practical isses like climate change

The things we do today may make life worse for future generations. But why should we care what happens to people who won't be born until after all of us are gone? Some philosophers have treated this as a question about our moral responsibilities, and have argued that we have duties of beneficence to promote the well-being of our descendants. Rather than focusing exclusively on issues of moral responsibility, Samuel Scheffler considers the broader question of why and how future generations matter to us. Although we lack a developed set of ideas about the value of human continuity, we are more invested in the fate of our descendants than we may realize. Implicit in our existing values and attachments are a variety of powerful reasons for wanting the chain of human generations to persist into the indefinite future under conditions conducive to human flourishing. This has implications for the way we think about problems like climate change. And it means that some of our strongest reasons for caring about the future of humanity depend not on our moral duty to promote the good but rather on our existing evaluative attachments and on our conservative disposition to preserve and sustain the things that we value. This form of conservatism supports rather than inhibits a concern for future generations, and it is an important component of the complex stance we take toward the temporal dimension of our lives.

OUP Webpage.