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Does extraterrestrial life have intrinsic value? An exploration in responsibility ethics

Published online by Cambridge University Press:  27 February 2018

Ted Peters*
Affiliation:
Francisco J. Ayala Center for Theology and the Natural Sciences at the Graduate Theological Union, Berkeley, CA, USA
*
Author for correspondence: Ted Peters, E-mail: TedsTimelyTake.com and tedfpeters@gmail.com

Abstract

If space explorers discover a biosphere supporting life on an off-Earth body, should they treat that life as possessing intrinsic value? This is an ethical quandary leading to a further question: how do we ground a universal moral norm to which the astroethicist can appeal? This article closely analyses various forms of responsibility ethics and finds them weak because they commit the naturalistic fallacy – that is, they ask nature to define the good. The good, however, is self-defining and not derivable from nature. Even so, a revised responsibility ethic could ground its universal norms on the fact that life and only life can experience and appreciate the good. Conclusion: living creatures possess intrinsic value both on Earth and elsewhere in the Universe.

Type
Research Article
Copyright
Copyright © Cambridge University Press 2018 

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