Having never read any of philosopher A. C. Graying’s bulging bibliography, I was prepared for any reaction when I commenced “For the Good of the World: Why Our Planet’s Crises Need Global Agreement Now.” He was speaking at a Melbourne venue and I was drawn to his topic. How indeed was the climate crisis, a truly global, interlaced disaster in the making, to be tackled in a world seemingly riven with discord? First things first: from the outset, he bundles two other overweening global crises alongside the climate one, namely the threats posed by technology’s overreach (i.e. AI, genetic manipulation, advanced weaponry, social manipulation, etc.) and the ever-rising threat of extreme inequality seemingly writ into our globalized future.
Grayling is a liquid, refreshingly precise stylist who has a knack for presenting situations and arguments in a matter of paragraphs, and his coverage of these three chapters—”Confronting the Dangers of a Warming World”; “Technology and the Future”; “Justice and Rights”—is a treat to read, quite apt in my opinion. Then he deals with the philosophical and political problems of relativism—the seemingly impassable obstacles posed by vested interests acting badly and religious/nationalistic worldviews resisting positive solutions—and here he shades into pessimism. The final chapter addresses whether global agreements on climate change, technology, and rights have any hope of realization, and here he ventures into a spirited defense of properly proportionally constituted democracies. In the end he is both pessimistic/realistic and optimistic, but for the reader, For the Good of the World is a refreshing, bracing viewpoint that should clarify future actions. I recommend it highly.