Space Ethics, combined with bioethics and environmental ethics,
Astro-Ethics and Our Future
Life-centered ethics defines the human purpose:
principles are based on the unity of all life: its common roots and its shared future.
This new astro-ethics will assure that life fills the universe, and it will secure our cosmological future.
Can we in fact implement these principles? How can we assure that our family of DNA/protein life survives and expands in the galaxy? What are the prospects for life in the Solar System and far beyond? What cosmological future will this new panbiotic astro-ethics secure?
Scientific answers to the questions are addressed in "Seeding the Universe with Life: Securing Our Cosmological Future". The ethics sections below are also excerpted from this new book.
The logic of Nature is immutable and permanent.
In the primordial universe, there existed the Laws of Nature. By these laws the universe emerged from a point in space and time, filled with hot matter and energy.
The universe exists in space-time and contains mass-energy and particles and fields.
The basic particles are quarks and leptons. Gravity, electromagnetism, and weak and strong nuclear forces act amongst the particles.
All of the accessible universe is composed of these particles and fields, of the patterns that they form, and of the laws of Nature that reside within them.
Life is a process wrought in organic matter that self-propagates through gene/protein cycles.
The processes of Life lead to survival and propagation. But action that leads to a selected outcome is equivalent to the pursuit of a purpose.
Intrinsic to Life there is therefore purpose. The purpose of Life is to continue to live.A universe that contains Life, contains purpose.
Humankind belongs to the family of Life. The human purpose is therefore one with Life's purpose.
Therefore the human purpose is to forever propagate Life, and to elevate Life into a dominant force in Nature.
Those living patterns who propagate successfully survive; those who do not, vanish. This is the logic of Life.
The logic of Life is self-evident, immutable and permanent.
Self-reproduction creates new life-forms through random mutations. Those new life-forms who propagate best multiply, and survive longest. Thus evolution leads to progress.
Therefore the logic of Life defines progress as the increasing capacity for survival and propagation.
All life-forms are tested by survival, whatever means they arise by.
The same logic that controlled natural evolution will control engineered evolution.
The patterns of Life forever change, but the logic of Life is forever permanent.
Who belongs to the family of Life? Only sentient humans can ask and answer this question. Human judgement defines fellow Life.
The processes of organic Life are enacted by proteins, whose structures are encoded by genetic sequences. The core of the living process is the creation, through DNA codes, of proteins that act to reproduce the DNA codes.
Our family of organic Life contains all the organisms who reproduce through gene/protein cycles.
Humans possess an innate empathy to other living beings. Human emotions, ethics, rational judgement and religion all value Life.
All the human faculties: rational judgement, emotions, moral codes and the religions that rest upon them, support ethics that promote our family of organic Life.
Value judgements are formed by intelligent beings. The value of Life must be self-defined by living beings.
To living beings, Life itself is the highest value. From the human perspective, Life has the highest value amongst all the contents of the universe.
Living systems are uniquely complex, and precisely tuned for their function. The harmony of this complex system endows Life with a unique value amongst all the creations of Nature.
Biological structure would be unstable if the constants and laws of Nature were even slightly different. Life can exist only by a precise coincidence of the basic laws of matter.
In this sense, the physical universe itself converges to a unique point in Life.
Life has a unique value both from its own vantage-point and in the overall constitution of the universe.
Ethics must guide human action to fulfil the human purpose.
Those who strive best to survive persist, and reproduce most. The logic of selection installed thereby the instincts of survival in all species. These instincts are the foundations of human nature.
The instincts of survival may be enhanced or lost through self-engineered evolution.
Our descendants will survive only if the will to propagate Life is always consciously installed in human nature, from generation to generation.
Adaptation to space will require self-directed evolution, and space can accommodate the diverging products of self-engineered life. Self-directed evolution and expansion in space support each other and are mutually dependent.
Directed evolution will allow progress without pain. The pains of random evolution and extinction will be no longer needed.
In harsh space organic Life will integrate with robots, who must serve Life but not replace it. Living beings who would replace themselves by robots would have betrayed the purpose of Life, self-propagation.
When humans integrate with robots, control must remain in organic brains with vested interest in the survival of organic gene/protein life.
As humans and science advance, all that is allowed by Nature will be achieved. That human purpose which will be sought, will be accomplished. Our perceived human destiny will be self-fulfilling.
Self-governing species can survive only they seek survival deliberately, and must therefore supplement the instincts of survival with conscious biotic ethics.
The tests of survival are endless. Humans will always need to pursue deliberately the duty to Life inscribed in our every cell.
Therefore this principle must be the foundation of ethics passed on from generation to generation: that the human purpose is to forever propagate Life.
From the human purpose derive the axioms of ethics: That which promotes life is good. That which destroys life is evil.
Structured living matter contains order, but the same matter could be arranged in many more ways that would be lifeless.
Therefore living structure is improbable. Life can exist just narrowly, and living patterns are improbable and fragile.
The ways of survival are therefore a select few, while many more false paths lead to death.
The paths of survival require information and selection on many levels:
To construct and maintain biological structure; find sustaining elements in a random environment; to chose the optimal mates amongst a chance population; to select the fit amongst random mutants.
The interplay of chance and selection is intrinsic to the living process.
Survival and progress demand purposeful action directed by true information.
True information is therefore vital.
Reality must be recognized and confronted by action. Self-deceit may comfort and lead smiling to death. Nature does not forgive ignorance.
Truth, information, and the knowledge of reality serve Life.
Where there is Life, there is hope. Good can always emerge after evil.
Survival must be won moment by moment, day by day, year by year, eon by eon; but extinction once alone is the ultimate defeat, and only death can win a final victory.
No passing cause can justify the risk of our extinction; as where there is no life, there is no hope, nor does justice have meaning.
Only humans can secure the future of Life. Human extinction would be total extinction.
Ultimate total war is ultimate evil. No passing cause, even the pursuit of justice, can justify this ultimate danger.
Life is fragile. A technological society who can expand in space will also have the power of self-destruction. Aggression, that served evolution in the past, can now threaten the future.
Space can accommodate many cultures and species. Territorial aggression will be obsolete.
Therefore the ethics of Life commends peace.
Life will need cooperation in space, and advanced societies cemented by equitable justice.
Peace, justice, dignity and freedom promote Life.
The value of a human life is measured by its contributions to the human purpose.
The chain of life is constructed of day-to-day survival, and every constructive human life that contributes to the chain, contributes to the human purpose.
Small events may decide the evolution of complex systems. Each individual life can affect the future.
The imprint of every human being will live on in the course of the future.
The imprint of a human being on the patterns of future is our share in the worlds to come.
The senses of pleasure and happiness evolved under the logic of natural selection.
Therefore those who find wholesome pleasure in health, sustenance, safety and procreation, and pursue these ends, will survive and propagate best:
But self-serving indulgence mislead from the works of survival, and happy delusions can lead smiling to death.
The pursuit of healthy pleasure and happiness serve life and are morally good. Denying healthy pleasures and happiness, to oneself or to others, is evil.
As well, a happy society treasures peace and equitable sharing.
Life-centered ethics commends the pursuit of happiness.
Natural law recognizes cause and effect.
But human justice seeks fairness and compassion, rewards good, and punishes evil.
Natural law judges an act by its effects and it is blind to intent.
But human justice weights both the effect and the intent.
HYuman justice forgives, and honors repentance.
Natural justice is collective: an efficient society will flourish, and individuals will prosper regardless of merit.
Human justice awards individual justice; it rewards or punishes by individual merit.
The laws of Nature can be used but not defied, and human justice can exist only in the framework of Nature.
But human justice will increase with human power, and moral justice will rule the future.
In the quantum world many futures can derive from the present and if multiple paths can unfold, human action may affect the future.
Human impulses are neural events evoked by internal processes and external information. Our impulses appear to us as our will, and when exercised freely, the outcome is judged by survival.
Thereby freedom supports progress and Life benefits from freedom.
The empires of Life will be ruled by freedom, truth, happiness, human justice, and peace.
Life that we plant in new worlds will fill the universe.
The paths of Life will diverge in multiple worlds, to explore the limitless scope of structures that Nature permits.
The family of organic Life will grow in quantity, complexity and diversity.
Our family of organic life will be secure as our seed fills the galaxy.
Life, born of the laws of Nature, will permeate the universe.
Our descendants will fill all habitable space and time and seek to extend Life to eternity.
When Life permeates the universe, our human existence will find a cosmic purpose.
The science and ethics of expanding life are discussed in
"Seeding the Universe with Life:
Securing Our Cosmological Future"
Click on the book title
How could we expand life in the Universe?
How much life can the galaxy support?
Copyright Legacy Books 2004