About me

I'm a Postdoctoral Research Fellow in Philosophy at the Global Priorities Institute, University of Oxford. I'm part of a team of philosophers and economists working on foundational issues relevant to the question of how to do the most good. We're particularly interested in assessing a particular answer to this question, Longtermism, which roughly has it that the best thing we can do is to improve the long-run future of humanity as best we can. Here, the long-run future means something less like the next fifty years and more like the next fifty million years. Most of the research outputs of GPI are freely available online, and can be found here.

Technically, I am also a DPhil candidate in Philosophy at St John's College, Oxford. My DPhil thesis, which is currently being examined, defends the view in population axiology that outcomes are to be ranked by their total wellbeing. It also defends the analogous view about different-number fission cases. My thesis supervisors are Prof. Hilary Greaves and Dr. Teruji Thomas, both of the Global Priorities Institute, University of Oxford.

Before beginning the DPhil, I studied for the BPhil in Philosophy at the University of Oxford, where I was supervised by Prof. Volker Halbach, Prof. Guy Kahane, Prof. Jeff McMahan and Dr. Teruji Thomas. Before that, I studied Mathematics and Philosophy (with specialism in logic and foundations) at the University of Warwick. My undergraduate thesis, which went through some standard results on the equivalence of reflection principles and large cardinal axioms in set theory, was supervised by Prof. Walter Dean and Prof. Adam Epstein. Before that, I went to school. I'm from Northampton, a large town in the East Midlands of England. It's world-famous for its Shoe Museum and for being the 28th largest town in England in 1377.

I'm currently interested in a wide range of topics, many of which are connected to issues in population ethics. Do send me an email if you'd like to think about some of these things together! My email address is tomi dot francis at philosophy dot ox dot ac dot uk.

  • Is there a moral reason to cause people to exist with good lives?

  • Should we accept principles of Anonymity for our axiology? (Yes.) Should we accept an anonymous theory of moral reasons? (Unclear.)

  • Is the betterness relation on populations intransitive? Is it option-set-dependent?

  • How should theories of partial or limited aggregation apply to variable population cases?

  • How should a rational agent act in light of incomplete preferences?

  • Can/should we avoid the Repugnant Conclusion? (No.)

  • What should theories of partial or limited aggregation say about small probabilities of affecting enormous numbers of future people?

  • Does the view that "identity does not matter" have significant implications for population ethics?

  • What does prudence require of us in different-number fission cases?

  • Should we be Prioritarians or Egalitarians about value? Should we be Prioritarians or Egalitarians about our moral reasons? Why/why not?

  • Could it be prudentially rational to be risk-averse about wellbeing in a manner consistent with Expected Utility Theory?

  • Which principles should guide the programming of autonomous systems?

  • Is knowledge closed under logical consequence?

  • Is there a strong moral reason to pursue research in radical life extension?