The above title is that of the new subject that I'll be teaching at Monash in first semester, 2008. I have a light load this semester: no lectures to give, or anything else, just three tutorials (plus some marking for the second-year metaethics subject). Although, I must add that two of the three tutorial groups I've been assigned are very large, which will create its own challenges.
So, what is this new subject all about? It's actually part of the university's interdisciplinary program in International Studies, which is mainly run out of the history department. In this case, though, the philosophy department got the gig to design and run a subject, and it's an exercise in applied moral/political philosophy. We'll be spending the semester trying to work out how to solve the twin problems of global poverty and global ecoological damage (more specifically, global warming), without our actions getting in each other's way. Since it's a philosophy subject, the emphasis is not on the technical details of the situation or what can be done, though of course those are relevant, but on what we should do, where the "should" is a moral one of some kind. This will mean, for example, considering various theories of global justice.
Currently, I have only the vaguest views about what should be done. As with all the subjects that I teach, it's a chance to sharpen up my own thinking. There couldn't be two more pressing issues to think about.
If we do nothing, we'll solve the problem. Humans as a species will probably survive, but in greatly reduced numbers after all the starvation, wars, etc. Then the Earth can get back to regeneration....
Is that a good philosophy?
Well, I guess that's one approach. ;)
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