Future generations

What moral obligations do we have towards future generations -to those yet to be born, and to people whose very existence (or non-existence) depends on how we act now?

This module explores this question by examining both a series of practical case studies and some of the main concepts and theories philosophers use when thinking about these issues.

Questions considered include, among a range of others:

How should we weigh quality against quantity of life?

Ought we to try significantly to extend the human lifespan (to 150 years or beyond)?

Is there a moral obligation to refrain from having children, or one to have (more) children?

Should we use selection techniques to minimise the incidence of genetic disorders and disabilities in future populations? Should parents be allowed to determine the genetic characteristics of their future children?

How should the interests of non-human creatures be weighed against those of humans? How strong are our moral obligations to prevent extinctions, and to preserve wildernesses?

Every year the department runs several Special Subject modules in philosophy, in which students engage in depth with research topics chosen by individual members of staff. These modules offer an opportunity to work on cutting-edge philosophy, in a small group, under the guidance of a subject expert. They are open both to final-year undergraduate students and to MA students (under different codes for administrative purposes).

Special Subject classes are run as seminars or reading groups: the tutor convenes the group, sets reading, and guides discussion, but does not lecture; students are expected to be active, selfdirected,and well-prepared participants.

Depending on student numbers and timetables, MA students may either take seminars with undergraduates or in their own separate groups. MA students also have their own, further meetings with the module tutor.MA students' assessed work for this module will be marked at the appropriate level, distinct from and higher than undergraduates' assessed work, and requiring a greater degree of depth, independence, and knowledge of the appropriate philosophical literature. Guidance will be provided.