Population and Ethics

September 26, 2016
Cumberland Lodge

Cumberland Lodge, The Great Park
Windsor SL4 2HP
United Kingdom

View the Call For Papers


  • Centre for the Study of Existential Risk
  • Royal Economics Society
  • British Society for Population Studies

All speakers:

Greg Bognar
Stockholm University
Elizabeth Cripps
University of Edinburgh
Partha Dasgupta
Cambridge University
Luara Ferracioli
University of Amsterdam
Martin Kolk
Stockholm University
Karin Kuhlemann
Silvia Milano
Beatrice Okyere-Manu
University of KwaZulu-Natal
Isabella Triton
Universitat Pompeu Fabra


Simon Beard
Cambridge University
Elizabeth Finneron-Burns
Oxford University

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Undoubtedly, many of the most pressing challenges of our age relate to changes in human population. Many people believe that the world is overpopulated and that population growth is causing significant social, economic and environmental harm. However, countries with low rates of population growth are struggling to cope with ageing populations and shrinking workforces.

Yet these questions receive little attention from academics, and public debate is often led by unconsidered opinion and ideological divides about the ethics of birth and death. This presents opportunities for interdisciplinary researchers to break new ground and make significant contributions to contemporary policy decisions. 

This colloquium will bring together scholars who can combine ethical analysis and scientific rigour to address these challenges head on, and to forge new lines of academic inquiry. Researchers from philosophy and the social sciences, as well as practitioners and policy makers, will share their knowledge and concerns, learn from one another, and forge collaborative relationships. This will not simply be a conference for the paper givers, but an opportunity for open and honest debate of challenging issues and fundamental questions. 

Key themes of the colloquium will include:

  • The morality of birth: why do people decide to have children and what role can, and should, morality play in such decisions?
  • The changing shape of society: how are large-scale demographic changes, such as growing life expectancy and shrinking family sizes, changing the dynamics of our lives, and how should society respond to this?
  • Human populations and the environment: how do growing human populations interact with other species and what challenges does this raise for our planet?
  • Optimum demographics: what role does population play in economic and social development and is there such a thing as an optimum population?

For enquiries about the event, please contact the organising committee: [email protected]

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September 23, 2016, 5:00am BST

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