Space exploration and off-world commercial activity engage both skeptics and its enthusiasts. What does seem clear, however, is that such activity has increased and is set to expand further — and dramatically so — during the present century.
This book explores some of the emerging ethical issues of the space frontier and evaluates the prospects for the medium-range future: Can terraforming of other worlds succeed? Would it be defensible? Should there be limits to mining in space? Do lifeless planets have an integrity that ought to be respected? Could indigenous microbacteria have intrinsic value? Do we have a duty to extend human life?
The ethics of sending world ships on interstellar journeys and the risks associated with seeding other worlds with rudimentary forms of life are discussed. The ethics of space exploration is as much about humanity as it is about space. The book concludes with a study of the connection between a single home planet and a single moral community.
Tony Milligan is a lecturer in Philosophy at the University of Hertfordshire and specializes in ethics. He lives in the United Kingdom.