Spring 2023

Population Ethics

Listed in: Environmental Studies, as ENST-474  |  Philosophy, as PHIL-374


Joseph G. Moore (Section 01)


(Offered as ENST 474 and PHIL 374) Is our planet overpopulated? And if so, how many of us should live on it? Population raises tricky questions that are both empirical and broadly philosophical: How should we weigh the well-being of future individuals against the lives of those currently living? Should we aim for a future population whose average or whose total level of well-being is maximized—or should we apply some other standard? Even more fundamentally: are we right to think of human life as, on balance, a positive thing? And how might a policy based on answers to such questions be weighed against rights to reproductive choice, and against considerations of justice? In this seminar, we will explore recent work in the emerging and fascinating field of population ethics. We will chart new areas for research, as well as for practical policy-making.

Requisite: At least one course in either ENST or PHIL. Limited to 18 students. Spring semester. Professor Moore.

If Overenrolled: Priority to Philosophy or Environmental Studies majors, then seniors, juniors, etc.


2022-23: Offered in Spring 2023
Other years: Offered in Fall 2016, Spring 2018, Fall 2019