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Bioethics. 2009 Oct;23(8):433-40. doi: 10.1111/j.1467-8519.2008.00688.x. Epub 2008 Dec 11.

Life-centered ethics, and the human future in space.

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  • 1Department of Chemistry, Virginia Commonwealth University, Richmond, VA 23284-2006, USA.


In the future, human destiny may depend on our ethics. In particular, biotechnology and expansion in space can transform life, raising profound questions. Guidance may be found in Life-centered ethics, as biotic ethics that value the basic patterns of organic gene/protein life, and as panbiotic ethics that always seek to expand life. These life-centered principles can be based on scientific insights into the unique place of life in nature, and the biological unity of all life. Belonging to life then implies a human purpose: to safeguard and propagate life. Expansion in space will advance this purpose but will also raise basic questions. Should we expand all life or only intelligent life? Should we aim to create populations of trillions? Should we seed other solar systems? How far can we change but still preserve the human species, and life itself? The future of all life may be in our hands, and it can depend on our guiding ethics whether life will fulfil its full potentials. Given such profound powers, life-centered ethics can best secure future generations. Our descendants may then understand nature more deeply, and seek to extend life indefinitely. In that future, our human existence can find a cosmic purpose.

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