Arne Næss stipend
Tentative title: Settlement expansion to outer space - the end of the anthropocene? Long-term sustainability - environmental ethics in space.
The main objective of my master project is to contribute to an establishment of an ethical foundation for space exploration and future settlements, in the name of long-term sustainability of the human race, based on the Sustainability Solution to the Fermi Paradox. My research is thus aiming to be a contribution to the emerging field of astrobioethics.
By merging fields such as deep and dark ecology, ecopsychology and environmental ethics, and placing this debate in a framework of natural sciences such as evolutionary biology, evolutionary psychology and astrobiology, this project will attempt to visualize a complex correlation of the physical and psychological relationship between human beings and the natural environment, in the search for an ecospherical sane ethical foundation for our future existence. As my own ecocentric conception of life stems from the natural sciences, an acknowledgment of the human conatus, as in every other organism, will be argued for having to be integrated in the establishment of such an ethic, as one that unites conatus with sustainability.
The astrobiological framework offers crucial insights to the possibilities of future human existence and sustainability, of existential risks, of the delicacy of our current life, and it offers help placing this search for ethics, a search that limited to Earth seems to continuously run into obstacles, in a sphere void of most such limitations, and potentially explodes the borders of the thinking sphere, possibly revealing unprecedented answers.
The main rational for this research stems from a deep concern for the present state of the natural environment, with us humans within it, and a main conviction that our current way of being human is not sustainable in the long run. Being human at a time where our origin and our sources for survival and well-being are so profoundly, both physically and psychologically, disconnected from our daily life, seems to me to be a matter of environmental philosophy and ethics. I see this conceptual foundation for our existence in a crumbling condition, where its tremors can be traced to a landscape of social, cultural and health issues the modern human seem to struggle with, and I thus find it hard to envision a well-functioning and well-feeling future human, by continuing along our current path. I therefore believe it must be the main focus to reconstruct our mindset and challenge the ethical and philosophical foundation of our understanding. The principles of such a reconstruction should then establish an ethical foundation for long-term sustainability. By expanding the temporal and spatial scale along the pathway of the Sustainability Solution, the ethical terrain thus encounters extraterrestrial environments, extraterrestrial indigenous life and extraterrestrial intelligent life. Accompanying these scenarios follows a variation of existential risks, in addition to the ones we create ourselves.
Another more personal rational stems from a deep moral despair concerning our universal legacy as an intelligent species. By being part of the anthropocene epoch's destructive manners, and as sentient and conscious beings, I argue that emotions do matter, also, and maybe even in particular, in respect to such massive and fundamental questions.