Off-Earth: Ethical Questions and Quandaries for Living in Outer Space

MIT. Mar. 2023. 304p. ISBN 9780262047548. $27.95. SCI
Astrophysicist Nesvold (host of the podcast Making New Worlds) addresses a variety of questions about the ethical and social aspects of living and working in space. Many issues should be considered and defined before humans build settlements in space or attempt long-term Star Trek–type missions, where citizens of a near-utopian society work peaceably together and boldly venture into space to explore the galaxy. Expanding upon the information presented on her podcast, the author considers questions such as making outer space accessible to all and prioritizing human rights and ethics. She emphasizes the need for including humanities perspectives in the discussion, not just STEM-oriented ideas. Philosophers, anthropologists, and sociologists can provide insights into the “why” of space travel, whereas scientists and engineers tend to focus on the “how.” As Nesvold suggests, government agencies and private companies need to spend more time thinking about how to build communities in space based on ethical considerations and cultural values.
VERDICT This well-researched and accessible book is for general readers or those interested in the philosophy of science or the ethics of space travel.
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