Self in a Future Society: A Philosophical Enquiry


The concept of self has undergone significant changes throughout its long history. At a time when old controversies on how to best think about the nature of the self are still very much alive, new conceptions are starting to come into focus (data-selves, extended selves) which may once more require radical rethinking. 

Human beings, minds and selves are inevitably shaped by their environments, and in return they determine their institutions, governmental bodies, and ultimately political systems. ‘Smart’ devices, virtual agents and generative AI already play an increasing role in the way humans structure their activities and think of themselves. ‘Intelligent systems’ are expected to become more and more autonomous and agentive to the point that they are perceived as potentially posing unprecedented threats. How might this new cognitive ecology where social mining and data-tracking are commonplace and where AI is said to know us better than our partners and friends, threaten privacy, restrict the scope of human action, and change the fabric of society?

On the optimistic side, in our gradual transitioning into a posthumanist world we expect that developing technologies will greatly enhance human intellectual, physical and psychological capacities and afford us new ways of expressing ourselves. The capacity to tackle all forms of diseases relieves us from our dependence on the body and promises an existence free from physical and emotional suffering and (near-)immortality. But with it come considerations that put our current notions of human subjectivity and particularly human embodiment under substantial stress.

On the same token a counterpart question arises for artificial intelligences, machine consciousness and selfhood. There are ethical implications on how to expand the circle of moral concern when extending subjectivities beyond the human species to include non-human or silicon-based agents and their selves.

Please note: this event will close to enrolments at 23:59 UTC on 21 February 2024.

Programme details

Registration at Rewley House reception (for in-person attendees)

Know thyself! – easier said than done

Tea/coffee break

Visions of a future society

Lunch break

Technologically enhanced human selves

Tea/coffee break

Selfhood in artificial beings?

End of day


Description Costs
Course Fee - in-person attendance (includes tea/coffee) £99.00
Course Fee - virtual attendance £90.00
Baguette Lunch £6.50
Hot Lunch (3 courses) £17.60


If you are in receipt of a UK state benefit or are a full-time student in the UK you may be eligible for a reduction of 50% of tuition fees.

Concessionary fees for short courses


Dr Julia Weckend

Julia has taught philosophy at the Universities of Reading and Southampton before joining Oxford University’s Department for Continuing Education. She regularly teaches weekly classes as well as courses for Oxford University Summer School for Adults and Oxford Experience. Her academic research focuses on issues in metaphysics and epistemology. She has published papers and edited two volumes in the history of philosophy, and she is a co-author of the Historical Dictionary of Leibniz’s Philosophy (2023).


Please use the 'Book' button on this page. Alternatively, please contact us to obtain an application form. 


Accommodation is not included in the price, but if you wish to stay with us the night before the course, then please contact our Residential Centre.

Accommodation in Rewley House - all bedrooms are modern, comfortably furnished and each room has tea and coffee making facilities, Freeview television, and Free WiFi and private bath or shower rooms.  Please contact our Residential Centre on +44 (0) 1865 270362 or email for details of availability and discounted prices.

IT requirements

For those joining us online

We will be using Zoom for the livestreaming of this event. If you’re attending online, you’ll be able to see and hear the speakers, and to submit questions via the Zoom interface. Joining instructions will be sent out prior to the start date. We recommend that you join the session at least 10-15 minutes prior to the start time – just as you might arrive a bit early at our lecture theatre for an in-person event.

Please note that this course will not be recorded.