Syllabus for Population Ethics


  • 7.5 credits
  • Course code: 5FP067
  • Education cycle: Second cycle
  • Main field(s) of study and in-depth level: Practical Philosophy A1N
  • Grading system: Fail (U), Pass (G), Pass with distinction (VG)
  • Established: 2019-11-04
  • Established by: The Department Board
  • Applies from: week 01, 2020
  • Entry requirements: Eligible is the person who fulfills the requirements for a bachelor's degree in the humanities or has a corresponding foreign degree.
  • Responsible department: Department of 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 a couple considering whether 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 10-12 pages. Active and commendable participation during the lectures will be favourably taken into account in the examination.

Master's students are expected to write somewhat longer and more comprehensive essays than C-level students, and the requirements concerning scholarly quality are higher.

Other directives

The course is given both as a first cycle or as a second cycle course.

Reading list

The reading list is missing. For further information, please contact the responsible department.