The introduction sets out a standard concern that space ethics may be unduly constraining upon state and private sector activities in space. As a counter-picture, Section 2 sets up a distinction between ‘standard space ethics’ and ‘special space ethics’ which will allow us to explore ways in which space ethics enables as well as constrains. A case is then made in Section 3 for pragmatic constraints upon space ethics itself. Space ethics should be either ‘policy apt’ (able to directly shape space policy within a liberal democratic social context) or ‘precursor apt’ (able to contribute productively to broader, precursor discussions which may feed into policy apt deliberations). What makes any ethic satisfy either of these conditions will depend upon a range of factors. The ethic should have stability (dealt with in Section 3.1). It should not merely track transitory voting trends or the ebbs and flows of electoral politics. Secondly, it should have a high degree of political realizability (dealt with in Section 3.2). Finally, the ethic should be psychologically available. Section 4 then shows the usefulness of these basic constraints upon space ethics through a contrast between the emerging US and European agendas in astrobiology.
Part of the book: Into Space