Population Ethics

7.5 credits

Syllabus, Bachelor's level, 5FP062

Education cycle
First cycle
Main field(s) of study and in-depth level
Practical Philosophy G2F
Grading system
Fail (U), Pass (G), Pass with distinction (VG)
Finalised by
The Department Board, 4 September 2023
Responsible department
Department of Philosophy

Entry requirements

52.5 credits in Philosophy and Aesthetics, or 52.5 credits in Philosophy

Learning outcomes

After completing the course the student should:

  • be familiar with key concepts and main directions in population ethics
  • be able to describe different proposed answers to the question "What makes one population intrinsically better than another?" and related questions
  • be familiar with some of the most widely held theories of welfare
  • be able to identify some advantages and disadvantages of the respective theories.


Many of the choices we make affect the welfare of people who will live in the future. Many choices also affect who and how many people will live. This is true of large-scale political decisions, such as policies regarding global warming, as well as of small-scale individual decisions, such as to have a child. "Population ethics" deals with evaluative and normative questions, actualized by choices affecting the welfare, identities and number of future people. This course will focus on the following general questions: What makes one population (intrinsically or finally) better than another? Are there criteria for ranking populations in terms of value? What makes it the case that we ought to choose one population rather than another?


Lectures and discussion. The lectures will be interactive, and the students are expected to participate in the discussion.


A home essay of about 3000 words. Active and commendable participation during the lectures will be favourably taken into account in the examination.

If there are special reasons for doing so, an examiner may make an exception from the method of assessment indicated and allow a student to be assessed by another method. An example of special reasons might be a certificate regarding special pedagogical support from the University's disability coordinator.

Other directives

The course may run jointly with the second cycle course 5FP067.

No reading list found.