Program

ACLS Fellowship Program

Project

The pessimistic spirit: the past and future of an untimely ethic

Project

The Human Boundary: Freedom, Citizenship, and Democracy in a Post-Human Age

Department

Political Science

The pessimistic spirit: the past and future of an untimely ethic

The Human Boundary: Freedom, Citizenship, and Democracy in a Post-Human Age

This project’s central claim is that the problem of the twenty-first century will be the problem of the human boundary. What separates humans in a morally and politically consequential way from nature, animals, and new forms of artificial intelligence? Traditional answers to this question have lost much of their persuasiveness; whether and how new ones can be fashioned will determine a great deal about the shape of society and politics in the coming decades. This project’s goal is to reevaluate and reformulate some central concepts of political theory—freedom, citizenship, and democracy—in light of the eroding borderline between the human and the nonhuman. Rather than citizenship and human rights rooted in species dignity, democracy and a system of rights can be defended based on an understanding of a collective constitution of the conditions of freedom.