Philosophy and the Future

In this course, we will explore a range of philosophical questions that arise in thinking about the future.  These include questions regarding our moral obligations to future persons and to future generations as well as questions regarding the ways in which new discoveries and emerging technological developments might fundamentally alter our moral, political, and economic relationships.  This course will integrate issues in philosophy, economics, political theory, and the sciences.

Questions that may be discussed include:

  • What are our obligations (environmental and otherwise) to future generations, and how might we understand and justify those obligations?
  • Do we need to weigh our environmental obligations to future generations against our obligations to provide resources and encourage economic development for the presently existing poor?
  •  How might findings in neuroscience and new technological developments in medicine and biology affect our sense of self, our relationship to our bodies, and our views on moral responsibility and punishment?
  • Are there ways in which technology could solve (or, to the contrary, exacerbate) particular moral problems?
  •  As technology continues to reduce the practical barriers to things like trade and transport between states, does the nation-state continue to represent the right model for political organization?
  • As progress is made towards artificial intelligence and the further mechanization of labor, what effect will that have on economic inequality, on our models of economic distribution, and on our conception of distributive justice?