Phil Torres: When Did We Realize That We Could Die Out? A Look at the Origin and Evolution of the Idea of Human Extinction

A number of scholars in the emerging field of existential risk studies have wondered why so little academic work has to date focused on human extinction. One answer is that the idea of human extinction is a fairly recent addition to our shared library of concepts.

In this presentation, which borrows from a forthcoming book titled A Brief History of Human Extinction, Phil will outline a theory of why the idea took shape when it did and explore its development from the pre-Socratics to the present. He will also offer some cautionary remarks about the future of this idea in a world increasingly cluttered with unprecedented risks to our survival.

About the speaker

Phil Torres is a Visiting Researcher at the Centre for the Study of Existential Risk. He's published widely on existential risk issues, focusing on topics such as the ethics of human extinction, existence of "omnicidal agents," and dangers associated with colonizing space. His most recent book is called Morality, Foresight, and Human Flourishing: An Introduction to Existential Risks. It includes a foreword by Lord Martin Rees and endorsements from Peter Singer, Rachel Bronson, Ray Kurzweil, and George Church.


This talk is supported by the Hauser-Raspe Workshop Series at the Centre for the Study of Existential Risk.

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