The ethics of terraforming

Environmental Ethics 21 (3):227-245 (1999)
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Abstract

I apply an agent-based virtue ethics to issues in environmental philosophy regarding our treatment of complex inorganic systems. I consider the ethics of terraforming: hypothetical planetary engineering on a vast scale which is aimed at producing habitable environments on otherwise “hostile” planets. I argue that the undertaking of such a project demonstrates at least two serious defects of moral character: an aesthetic insensitivity and the sin of hubris. Trying to change whole planets to suit our ends is arrogant vandalism. I maintain that these descriptions of character are coherent and important ethical concepts. Finally, I demonstrate how the arguments developed in opposition to terraforming, a somewhat farfetched example, can be used in cases closer to home to provide arguments against our use of recombinantDNA technologies and against the construction of tourist developments in wilderness areas

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Robert Sparrow
Monash University

Citations of this work

Humans Should Not Colonize Mars.Ian Stoner - 2017 - Journal of the American Philosophical Association 3 (3):334-353.
On the Moral Permissibility of Terraforming.James S. J. Schwartz - 2013 - Ethics and the Environment 18 (2):1-31.
Space Debris: Litter or Pollution?Michael Lindquist - 2024 - Diálogos. Revista de Filosofía de la Universidad de Puerto Rico 55 (114):195-226.

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