The Open UniversitySkip to content

The ethical relevance of earth-like extrasolar planets

Cockell, Charles S. (2006). The ethical relevance of earth-like extrasolar planets. Environmental Ethics, 28(3) pp. 303–314.

Google Scholar: Look up in Google Scholar


The discovery of Earth-sized extrasolar planets orbiting distant stars will merit an expansion of the sphere of entities worthy of moral consideration. Although it will be a long time, if ever, before humans visit these planets, it is nevertheless worthwhile to develop an environmental ethic that encompasses these planets, as this ethic reflects on our view of life on Earth and elsewhere. A particularly significant case would be a planet that displays spectroscopic signatures of life, although the discovery of many lifeless planets might itself intensify the value of life on Earth. A derivation of Schweitzer's general principle of "reverence for life" and similar frameworks are appropriate ethics with which to view extrasolar planets. The development of an ethical framework for extrasolar planets might provide a means to fashion a deeper and more effective environmental ethic for Earth's biosphere.

Item Type: Journal Article
ISSN: 0163-4275
Academic Unit/Department: Science > Physical Sciences
Interdisciplinary Research Centre: Centre for Earth, Planetary, Space and Astronomical Research (CEPSAR)
Item ID: 15991
Depositing User: Users 8955 not found.
Date Deposited: 13 May 2009 15:19
Last Modified: 02 Sep 2011 09:38
Share this page:

Actions (login may be required)

Policies | Disclaimer

© The Open University   + 44 (0)870 333 4340