Respect for the world: Universal ethics and the morality of terraforming

This dissertation aims to develop an ethical system that can properly frame such questions as the morality of large-scale efforts to transform inanimate parts of nature, for example, proposals to terraform Mars. Such an ethics diverges from traditional approaches to ethics because it expands the class of entities regarded as morally considerable to include inanimate entities. I approach the task by building on the environmental ethical theory of Paul W. Taylor, as developed in his 1986 book Respect for Nature: A Theory of Environmental Ethics. I discuss various criticisms of Taylor and propose two extensions to his theory: an expansion of the scope of moral considerability to include all concrete material objects and the introduction of the concept of variable moral significance (the notion that all entities have inherent worth but some have more than others). Using Taylor’s modified and extended theory as a foundation, I develop something I call universal ethics. This is an ethical framework whose key elements are a fundamental ethical attitude of respect for the world and a principle of minimal harm. Universal ethics regards all concrete material entities, whether living or not, and whether natural or artefactual, as inherently valuable, and therefore as entitled to the respect of moral agents. I offer a defence of this ethical framework and discuss a number of practical applications, including criticism of proposals for the terraforming of Mars. I conclude that terraforming Mars or any other celestial body at this point in our history would be morally wrong. I also suggest that universal ethics provides an ethical foundation for efforts to protect Antarctica, and that it has implications for our relations to other inanimate parts of our world, including artefacts
Keywords No keywords specified (fix it)
Categories (categorize this paper)
 Save to my reading list
Follow the author(s)
My bibliography
Export citation
Find it on Scholar
Edit this record
Mark as duplicate
Revision history
Request removal from index
Translate to english
Download options
Our Archive

Upload a copy of this paper     Check publisher's policy     Papers currently archived: 28,157
Through your library
References found in this work BETA

No references found.

Add more references

Citations of this work BETA

No citations found.

Add more citations

Similar books and articles
The Ethics of Respect for Nature.Paul W. Taylor - 1981 - Environmental Ethics 3 (3):197-218.
The Ethics of Terraforming.Robert Sparrow - 1999 - Environmental Ethics 21 (3):227-245.
Do We Have Moral Duties Towards Information Objects?Philip Brey - 2008 - Ethics and Information Technology 10 (2-3):109-114.
Communicative Ethics and Moral Considerability.Richard J. Evanoff - 2007 - Environmental Ethics 29 (3):247-266.
Ethics Beyond Moral Theory.Timothy Chappell - 2009 - Philosophical Investigations 32 (3):206-243.
Moral Considerability and Universal Consideration.Thomas H. Birch - 1993 - Environmental Ethics 15 (4):313-332.
Natural and Artifactual: Restored Nature as Subject.Yeuk-Sze Lo - 1999 - Environmental Ethics 21 (3):247-266.
Natural and Artifactual.Yeuk-Sze Lo - 1999 - Environmental Ethics 21 (3):247-266.
Nonreductive Ethical Naturalism.Andrew B. Schoedinger - 2007 - The Proceedings of the Twenty-First World Congress of Philosophy 1:3-6.
A Code of Ethics for Corporatecode of Ethics.Mark S. Schwartz - 2002 - Journal of Business Ethics 41 (1-2):27 - 43.

Monthly downloads

Added to index


Total downloads

2,743 ( #109 of 2,171,972 )

Recent downloads (6 months)

141 ( #717 of 2,171,972 )

How can I increase my downloads?

My notes
Sign in to use this feature

There  are no threads in this forum
Nothing in this forum yet.

Other forums