Keynote Lectures

Anders Sandberg: Grand Futures

What are the implications of long-term technological civilizations?  Technological civilizations have the ability to reshape their environment and themselves. This has potential to both vastly increase the scope of their activity, the number of individuals, and their utility. This talk will outline what we know about the physical limits of what civilizations can do across the universe and look at the interplay between physical feasibility and their possible utility functions. Of particular interest is what can be said about strategies of expansion, the value of the long-term future, and what implications this has for humanity's near-term strategy.

Anders Sandberg is Research Fellow at the Future of Humanity Institute and Oxford Martin Senior Fellow at the Oxford Martin School, at the University of Oxford. He has a Ph.D. in computational neuroscience from Stockholm University.

Tuesday July 24, 2018, 18.00-19.00, in Room C (Engesser Lecture Theatre)

Julia Driver: The Virtues and Utilitarianism

Early virtue ethicists would argue that one problem with Utilitarianism is that it did not make room for moral virtues. The early virtue ethicists also tended to be at least inspired by Aristotle's theory of virtue. Here I argue that the early focus on Aristotle was misleading. If we look at the historical record beyond Aristotle, we see other accounts of virtues which reject the Aristotelian perspective and start bringing in considerations of social utility in order to delineate virtues from other dispositions, but also certain types of virtues from others. This culminated in the last great virtue theorist, David Hume. My argument in this paper is that Hume did not go far enough in embracing Utilitarian considerations in his account, and that we can use insights provided by earlier writers who influenced Hume -- such as Hugo Grotius -- to articulate a more radical account of virtue that is truly consequentialist, if not strictly speaking Utilitarian.

Julia Driver is Professor of Philosophy at Washington University in St. Louis. She did her doctoral studies at Johns Hopkins University.

Wednesday July 25, 2018, 18.00-19.00 in Room C (Engesser Auditorium)

William MacAskill: Effective Altruism: A Research Agenda

In this talk, I describe the research project of effective altruism, asking the question, "With a given unit of resources, what should we do with those resources if our aim is to do the most good?" I outline some of the most pressing neglected and open problems that we must address if we are to make progress in answering that question, and suggest some preliminary answers.

William MacAskill is co-founder and President of the Centre for Effective Altruism (CEA) and an Associate Professor in Philosophy at Oxford University, where he also did his D.Phil.

Thursday July 26, 2018, 19.00-20.00 (NB) in the ZKM Media Theatre (more info)