Concerns about limited global resources and climate change have led many to argue that public policy should focus on future generations as much, or more, than current issues.  And we all think we should care about the lives of our descendants.  But there are risks.  The future is not predictable nor the outcome of current policy.  China's one child policy, draconian as it was, imagined it was making the country better for future generations.  Yet now, it looks misguided as the dangers of a falling population become apparent.  

Should current policy be focussed on long term consequences rather than immediate short term goals?  Can we improve our long run future and reduce the risk of extinction with altruistic decision making?  Or is this dangerous rhetoric open to abuse by interested parties and the reality that we cannot know how to act on behalf of an unknown future populace?

Future Generations Commissioner Sophie Howe, former judge and historian Jonathan Sumption and University of Oxford philosopher Hilary Greaves debate longtermism. Philip Collins hosts.

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