When it comes to life and the universe, philosophy has a lot of answers. There are also many more questions that remain unanswered. For thousands of years, philosophers have questioned things like human consciousness, ethics, the universe and society. While some of these questions seem extremely simple, they often carry broader implications and meanings.
To get you started on a philosophical conversation or to give you essay ideas for a philosophy class, we have compiled a list of 200 philosophical questions. You can use these questions as a starting point for a longer discussion or even debate the topics with your friends.
We have divided these 200 philosophical questions into different groups to make it easier for you to find the right questions. While we have tried to include as many different topics as possible, the field of philosophy is really too large to be combined into a single article. Hopefully, these questions will just be the starting point for future learning about philosophy.
Philosophical Questions About Technology and Science
1. Is it possible to make true artificial intelligence using the programming techniques and technology that we already have?
2. If you could get transporters from Star Trek, your particles would be taken apart and then reassembled. Does this mean that you would essentially die each time? Could it be possible to be alive in two places at once? Can it be said that you are ever truly dead?
3. If are emotions are created by biochemical reactions, then it is possible to imagine a future where we could use technology to theoretically control our emotions. If we could control our emotions with new technology, should we?
4. Why did technology advance at a slower rate in the past than it does now?
5. Does living in a more modern environment mean that global conspiracies are more or less possible to happen?
6. Did inventing the atomic bomb actually make the world a safer, more peaceful place?
7. In the future, there will be advancements in human augmentation. On one side of the scale, you have complete humans. On the other side, you have complete machines. How far should we go to augment ourselves with robotics? Is there a point where humans should stop? What body parts would you augment and why would you do it?
8. What scientific breakthrough would have the largest impact on humanity?
9. Should accessing internet be considered a fundamental human right?
10. Is technological advancement overall positive or negative?
11. As technology advances, more scientific breakthroughs could radically change society. Do you think these advancements will be relatively fast or will it be incremental, gradual changes?
12. Will humanity be limited in what they can make through science and technology?
13. If genetic engineering were cheap and easy, would you choose to have your genes edited? What types of changes would you want to make? Why?
14. Is there a point where technological enhancements and augmentation will make it so that humans are not actually human anymore?
15. Is technological progress something that is inevitable as long as humans exist?
16. Do you think that a singularity ill actually happen? If so, when do you think that we will reach this point?
Philosophical Questions About the Nature of Reality and the Universe
17. We have always known the world to exist. Some people think that there was always something in the universe. Others believe that there was nothing before something. What do you think is the most likely option?
18. When it comes to evolution, how does consciousness provide humans with a benefit?
19. Language can change the way we perceive color or think about the future. What other perceptions are affected by the type of language that we use?
20. Human beings and animals perceive reality in different way. Even different humans perceive reality differently. What is truly real? Is everything just our perception of reality instead of actual reality? Does every creature live in its unique, personal reality?
21. Would selectively breeding intelligence in an animal increase its intelligence? How intelligent could you make an animal like a dog become? If you cannot breed for intelligence, how does this feature emerge in different species?
22. Thinking in terms of evolution, do you believe that a more intelligent species would emerge if humans eventually went extinct? If there is life on other planets, do you think that reaching consciousness and intelligence is an inevitable part of the process?
23. Is math something that we discovered or something that we made? Is math an accurate representation of reality and the way that things work?
24. Is it possible to prove to people (other than yourself) that you possess consciousness?
25. Why do human beings have such an urge to distract ourselves from reality?
26. Is having a sense of humor because of our consciousness or because of something else?
27. Would it be possible for you to tell if time has been altered in some way?
28. Are there any limits to human creativity?
29. Why are human beings so susceptible to superstitions and magical thinking?
30. If the universe possesses finite limits, what would be beyond the edges of the finite universe?
31. Is it possible for human beings to create something completely unique and novel that is based on nothing in existence? Or is human creativity all about building on previous ideas and recreating them?
32. Is the concept of you a continuous thing? Or does it fade continually into the past, present and future you? Do “you” stick around or could one say that “you” is constantly being replaced as your atoms and memories change?
33. What level of consciousness do animals have?
34. Does nature have an inherent order or is everything about chance and chaos?
35. It is impossible that all of your beliefs are true. Which of your beliefs are most likely to be wrong or right? Which beliefs do you think will change soonest as new research emerges?
36. Do you think that someone’s genes could affect their political affiliation? Why or why not? If it does, what do you think the ramifications are?
37. Is it possible that animals are self-aware enough to think about their ability to think?
38. Your perception of the world is based on signals sent to your brain that your brain reconstructs. These signals are not even processed in real time, so there is a slight delay in what you receive. Would it ever be possible for human beings to experience the world in real time? What does it mean if every person has a slightly unique reality?
39. Would it be terrifying to discover that human beings are the most advanced species in the entire universe? Or would it be more terrifying to find out if we are not the most advanced species in the universe?
40. What is the best path to find truth in any field of study?
41. What is the definition of consciousness?
42. Why are human beings so confident in beliefs that they cannot prove?
43. If you could make a perfect clone of yourself, would it be “you” as well? Would it act just like you or would it act differently? If it were to act differently, would it still be you? At what point would the clone stop being you?
44. Are happiness and intelligence connected? If someone is extremely intelligent, would they be more or less happy than the average person?
45. Why do we avoid or resist doing things that are good for are overall well-being while desiring things that actually hurt our well-being?
46. What is the definition of genius?
47. As we discover more about quantum physics, we become less able to really understand the nature of reality. Is this just a temporary change before our minds adapt to understand the information? Or is it possible that we will soon be learning things that are actually passed what the human mind can comprehend? Is there a limit to what the human mind can understand? If there is a limit, what will happen when we reach our limits on studying reality?
48. Can human beings truly think of the depths of existence and reality?
49. Is happiness just chemicals that reach your brain or is it something else?
50. If someone erased all of your memories, what type of person would you be?
51. Human memory is notoriously unreliable. How do you know which memories or aspects of memories are true? How can you tell which memories have been altered?
52. How does language affect our thinking?
53. Do you think that life is objective or subjective? If there is an objective reality, would it ever be possible for us to understand it?
54. What do you think existed before the universe was created?
55. If you could simulate every neuron in your mind with a computer, would the computer have human consciousness?
56. Would human beings still be capable of rational thought if language did not exist?
Philosophical Questions About Governments and Society
57. Do you think that people who live in a wealthy country are morally obligated to help people who live in a poorer country?
58. What do you think the economies of wealthy nations will look like in 50 or 100 years?
59. Do you think that the government currently gives you any rights legally that you shouldn’t have? Do you think that there are any rights that you should have, but don’t?
60. Do you think that humanity will ever stop having tribalism and “in” groups? If it can escape tribalism, do you think that it should?
61. Do you think that marriage is an institution that needs to be changed? Does it need any updates?
62. What are the largest moral dilemmas that your country is facing at this moment?
63. A push of a nuclear button and resulting war could destroy all of humanity and life on earth. Do you think that it is right or wrong that just a handful of people could destroy all life on earth on a whim?
64. There is a trend toward individualism and away from collectivism. Do you think that this trend is a good thing or a bad thing?
65. Do you think that humans will ever make a global government? Assuming that a global government came to power and was not particularly evil, do you think that this would be a good or a bad change?
66. If the government used statistics, artificial intelligence and algorithms to operate, would this be better or worse than the government that we have now?
67. What do you think is the largest threat to the social contract within our nation?
68. What are some of the positives and negatives of diversity in society?
69. How much of your personal privacy would you give up for safety?
70. An explosion in civilization, a growth in cities and the agricultural revolution have all occurred in just a short space of time. Do you think this is overall positive or negative? Would it have been better for human beings to continue to live in small tribes?
71. Why is it that some societies place a higher value on emotions and expressing emotions?
72. It seems like just about everyone is glued to their smartphone or laptop. What do you think the long-term effects of these screens will be?
73. What do you think is the biggest cause of completely avoidable harm in the world?
74. What do you think would happen to a society if no one had to work? If everyone was given enough shelter, food, healthcare and water for free, how would it change the world?
75. Do you think censorship is ever necessary? What are the limits that should be placed on censorship?
76. What would happen if a maximum income was implemented?
77. Can you have a society exist without any laws?
78. How would our society change if men and women both had the same chance of getting pregnant and bearing a child?
79. How can we measure the productivity of any society? Is gross domestic product (GDP) the best measure?
80. What are some of the changes that happen in society when everyone can record videos or take pictures at any time and anywhere?
81. Should tax dollars be allowed to say what their tax dollars can and cannot be spent on?
82. With technology, you don’t have to use republics anymore. You could actually allow every citizen to vote on every measure. Would having a true democracy be a good thing or a bad thing for society? What types of changes would take place?
83. Could you make a society that exists without ways of transferring value like barter systems or money?
84. What role should the government play? What types of limitations should be placed on it?
85. Would the world be a better or worse place if you could make everyone look exactly the same?
86. What would a utopia look like? How would it work and continue to function?
87. There is a tendency among humans to form groups. Is this a positive or negative overall?
88. What is the important right that your government provides and protects?
89. How do you think the world would change if we could accurately measure an individual’s aptitude?
90. If you were given the ability to change how your country selects leaders and how they serve, what types of changes would you make?
91. Imagine you could make an ideal government. What should good citizens provide to that government, and what should that government be required to provide for good citizens?
92. If everyone had to say what they were actually thinking, what do you think would happen to society?
93. Is it harder or easier to achieve success in the modern world than it was 10, 50, 100 or 1,000 years ago?
94. How far do you think the government should be allowed to go to protect citizens from harming themselves? Do you have a right to your life and thus a right to commit suicide?
95. If you could create a country from scratch, what would you do? What would it look like? \
96. Do you think that it is inevitable to have poverty in society?
97. If human beings generally need the same things, why is there so much violence between different people or groups?
98. Do you think that social media has been a net positive or a net negative for society as a whole?
99. Do you think that a hierarchy is always necessary for success in human communities?
Philosophical Questions About Morality
100. What rights does every person have? Should those rights change based on your age?
101. Do you think that privacy is a right?
102. If scientists were able to predict who would commit a crime, what do you think society should do with that data?
103. Do you think more anonymity makes people more likely to behave? Or does it just show how people would act all the time if they were allowed to?
104. How much effort should the average person put into not offending other people?
105. Do you think that all people have the same value or that an individual’s value is based on their actions?
106. If you could save someone’s life, but doing so would break the law, would you be ethically justified to not save them?
107. Should we ever put limits on free speech rights?
108. What is really the difference between getting revenge and seeking justice?
109. When is it ever justified to take a human life?
110. What would be the most ethical way to pick someone to give five million dollars to?
111. If you discovered that animals have consciousness and know they will ultimately die, what would the ramifications be?
112. Would it be ethical to terraform other planets if it means we might destroy microscopic alien life that is currently undiscovered?
113. If I steal food from you and eat it, does the bread stop being yours and effectively become mine?
114. What is the definition of evil?
115. Why do human beings tend to think of being beautiful as being good or more moral?
116. Revolutions are generally quite violent. At what point is overthrowing the government ethical? At what point does it stop being ethical?
117. Is justice a human concept and construct or does it exist independently of human?
118. If religion stopped existed, would human beings be more or less morally corrupt?
119. Do business owners actually have the right to refuse service to certain customers?
120. Are people ethically obligated to focus on self-improvement?
121. If there were no laws limiting your behavior, what would you do?
122. Why are human beings so fascinated by serial killers and mass murderers?
123. Are individuals morally obligated to save someone else’s life if they are capable of doing so? What if that person lives in another nation?
124. If we discovered that some of our personality makeup was from genetics and could be changed with gene therapy, would it be ethical to remove personality traits that cause harm like compulsive lying, aggression or cruelty?
125. Do animals possess rights? Do all animals possess the same rights or does this change depending on the complexity of each animal?
126. Is your intention or the result more important when you decide if your action was moral?
127. What lifestyles, situations, people or events make hatred more likely to grow? Are some people genetically predisposed to hating?
128. As a people, we feel less of a moral obligation if we are physically or emotionally distant from the person in need. For example, people are less likely to feed a hungry person who is in another country than someone in their neighborhood. How does this aspect of morality shape our world?
129. Would it be right and moral to deny someone to come to our country if it meant that they and their family would die?
130. Should euthanasia be made legal? Why or why not?
131. If you could press a button and get a million dollars (but one stranger would die), would you press that button? How many times would you press it?
132. If a race of aliens put humanity on trial for what it has done, how would you defend humans and argue that they should continue to exist?
133. Do animals have morals?
134. Why do people believe that the universe would be fair when it possesses so much randomness?
135. Can morality be objective? Does it always have to be subjective? If it is subjective, how do we decide whose idea of morality is right?
136. Some studies show that certain animals possess empathy. If we know animals can empathize with others, how does that change the way we treat them or our decision to eat meat?
137. If babies are completely innocent, at what stage in development do they stop being innocent?
138. If doing something to help others makes us feel good, is true altruism even possible?
Philosophical Questions About Human Nature
139. What do you think that it means to live a good life?
140. Do you think that suffering is a necessary or inevitable part of being human? What would people be like if they never suffered?
141. Does studying philosophy ever provide answers or does it just cause more questions to form?
142. You have one life. What are you going to do with it?
143. What standards do you use to judge yourself?
144. Does possessing knowledge have an intrinsic value? Does knowledge need to have a practical use in order to possess value?
145. Does jealousy have a value in making humans strive to improve themselves? Is jealousy purely negative?
146. Some people think that a life without purpose is not worth living. Other people think that a life without purpose gives you the freedom to create your own purpose. Are both viewpoints valid or is one of them more true than the other?
147. Do you think that it is better to be the big fish in a small pond or the other way around?
148. What is the best way to train people about the gradients of the world instead of just thinking of things as right or wrong?
149. How likely do you think it is that humanity will last another 1,000 years without killing itself off?
150. How long will the memory of you last after you die?
151. Do you think that free will exists or that it is an illusion?
152. Why do humans dream?
153. How would society change if our life expectancy increased to 100, 150 or 500 years?
154. How does art benefit society? Does it hurt society in any way?
155. Is it better to have a deep knowledge base or a broad knowledge base?
156. What two questions would give you the most revealing information about who the person truly is?
157. What do you think is the largest waste of human potential?
158. What genetic changes would you make to humanity to improve them as a species?
159. What are you capable of achieving in life?
160. How do you think that you could contribute to society?
161. Is humanity headed in the wrong or right direction?
162. If you could teach everyone on earth one concept, which concept do you think would make the biggest, most positive impact on humanity?
163. If you could become immortal and lose the right to kill yourself or die, would you choose to be immortal?
164. Is the meaning of life the same for humans and animals?
165. What activities help you live life to the fullest?
166. What is the best way for someone to achieve happiness?
167. How do you think humanity would react to discovering extraterrestrial life?
168. What life-altering events or things should every person get to experience at least once in an ideal world?
169. Does a person’s name impact the person that they end up becoming?
170. Are you replaceable? How replaceable are you?
171. If freedom means simply the ability to do what you want, are animals freer than people?
172. What actions that you take in life have the longest consequences? How long would those consequences be experienced?
173. What is the line between something being art and not?
174. Do challenges and hardships make you stronger? If so, at what point is it too much? If not, what actually makes someone stronger?
175. Is wisdom or intelligence more useful?
176. What place is the most worthwhile location for giving your life meaning? For example, think of work, hobbies, religion, helping people or family.
177. Does absolute power always corrupt absolutely?
178. Is it more important to help yourself, your family, society or the world?
179. What do you attribute your success in life to? What do you attribute your failures to?
180. If a child were able to survive and grow up in the wilderness without ever interacting with humans, how “human” would they really be?
181. Do you think fate and free will exist?
182. What is the meaning life? Is there a meaning to life?
183. What should humanity’s number one goal be?
184. Where do you personally find meaning in your life?
185. If you had to make a guess, what do you think is the most likely way for you to die?
186. Do you think human nature can be changed? If so, should it?
187. Is a life that focuses on getting pleasure and avoiding suffering worthwhile? Is it a good life? Why or why not?
188. We tend to judge ourselves by our intentions, but we judge others by their actions. Why?
189. What do you think is the most important goal that each person should have in life?
190. Would you rather know when you will die beforehand or not?
191. Will religion ever become obsolete?
192. Do you think that the human species will go extinct? How do you think it will happen?
193. Imagine a loved one was killed in front of you and someone made a copy that was completely perfect. Would they be the same person? Would you still love them just as much?
194. Which harsh truths would you rather ignore?
195. Can you live a normal life without lying ever?
196. Where do you get your self-worth from?
197. Would things get better or worse if humans focused more on the things that are going well?
198. Which of your beliefs can be justified? Which cannot?
199. Why doesn’t humanity take more advantage of its ability to access almost infinite knowledge?
200. How important is play time or free time in having a fulfilling, healthy and happy life?