Article Text

Download PDFPDF
Summary of Unfit for the Future
  1. Ingmar Persson1,
  2. Julian Savulescu2
  1. 1Department of Philosophy, University of Gothenburg, Gothenburg, Sweden
  2. 2Faculty of Philosophy, The Oxford Uehiro Centre for Practical Ethics, Oxford, UK
  1. Correspondence to Professor Julian Savulescu, Faculty of Philosophy, The Oxford Uehiro Centre for Practical Ethics, Suite 8, Littlegate House, Oxford OX1 1PT, UK; julian.savulescu{at}

Statistics from

Request Permissions

If you wish to reuse any or all of this article please use the link below which will take you to the Copyright Clearance Center’s RightsLink service. You will be able to get a quick price and instant permission to reuse the content in many different ways.

The argument of Unfit for the Future1 can be summed up as follows. It is easier for us to harm each other than it is for us to benefit each other. For example, it is easier for us to kill than to save life. As the progress of scientific technology has increased our powers of action, our capacity to harm has reached the point at which it is possible for us to undermine worthwhile life on Earth forever. This could be done by the use of weapons of mass destruction or by causing catastrophic climatic or other environmental changes. One central, neglected problem is that a significant cause of these problems is human behaviour, caused by limitations in our psychology as moral agents. Our moral psychology has been adapted to life in small, close-knit societies with primitive technology, in which human beings have lived for virtually all of their history. This is reflected in the fact that we are psychologically myopic, that is, disposed to care more about what happens in the near future to ourselves and some individuals who are near and dear to us. We are also incapable of responding adequately to the suffering of larger collectives. Due to the fact that it is easier to harm, we tend to have a moral reluctance to harm that is stronger than our disposition to benefit, but like the latter, it is largely confined to an …

View Full Text


  • Competing interests None.

  • Provenance and peer review Commissioned; internally peer reviewed.

Linked Articles

Other content recommended for you