[Editor’s note: Andrew Papanikitas, Director of the UK’s Society of Apothercaries Course in Ethics and Philosophy of Healthcare, discusses ethical considerations around deep-space travel.]
The first question is whether the normal rules of society should be suspended in a harsh environment….Long-term survival of the group and completion of the mission might become more important moral goals than the liberty, or even survival, of any one individual.
The second question we considered was how to tackle issues around sex and reproduction on-board a lifelong mission. Should either sex for relationships and/or sex for reproduction be abandoned or controlled in some way.
We naturally considered rationing and medical treatment. When even the air is finite, rationing becomes a starker necessity. Justice – or treating equals equally and unequals unequally according to the relevant inequality- might take a more Marxist turn: From each according to their ability and too each according to their needs.
Finally we considered the morality of preparing people for such an endeavour. Should resilient and/or virtuous people be selected? Are survivors preferable to martyrs? We considered whether existing citizens of Earth should undergo preparation or whether children should be educated into the role – The novel and movie, ‘Ender’s Game’ offers a thought provoking example of preparation for a role in space warfare.
For more background on the Genetic Literacy Project, read GLP on Wikipedia