Chapter 7 -- On the methodology of space ethics

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Schwartz, James S.J.
Schwartz, James S. J. 2016. Chapter 7 -- On the methodology of space ethics. In: Ethics of Space Exploration Part of the series Space and Society, pp 93-107
This chapter addresses space’s impact on the methods of normative and applied ethics. My primary contention, by way of the dispute between value monism and pluralism in environmental ethics , is that our knowledge of the space environment has not advanced to the point where we can say decisively what is or is not intrinsically valuable in space. Thus we do not have adequate grounds for claiming that all that is of value can be accommodated by a single underlying value. We should therefore remain open to the possibility that a pluralist account of value may best suit the ethics of space. More positively, since space is studied in fractured and piecemeal ways, the pluralist outlook may be more conducive to novel reasons for environmental protection—protection that could facilitate broader opportunities for scientific discovery than under the current planetary protection regime. I also argue that our relative ignorance about the space environment raises related difficulties for virtue-based accounts of ethics.
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