Studia humana (SH) is a multi-disciplinary peer reviewed journal publishing valuable
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EARLY VIEW:

Unbound: Ethics, Law, Sustainability, and the New Space Race

The Author: Chris Impey,
We are witnessing a new space race. A half century after the last Moon landing, and after a decade during which the United States could not launch its own astronauts to Earth orbit, there is new energy in the space activity. China has huge ambitions to rival or eclipse America as the major space power, and other countries are developing space programs. However, perhaps the greatest excitement attaches to the entrepreneurs who are trying to create a new business model for space travel based initially on tourism, and eventually, on colonizing the Moon and Mars and harvesting resources from asteroids. This paper presents a snapshot of the new space race and the rich men behind it, and it looks at some of the ethical and legal issues raised by this activity. The methodology is to consider the stated ambitions of the men leading private space companies, compare and contrast the space endeavor with earlier episodes of exploration and transportation innovation, review the regulatory environment for outer space, and consider two divergent scenarios for the future. Opinions are divided on whether commercial space flight is an expensive indulgence or potentially a way to find sustainability solutions for our life on Earth. It is concluded that the new space race can be characterized as unbounded: in ambition, in terms of laws and regulations, and in terms of ethical constraints on the activity.

Reconciling the Irreconcilable: A Property Rights Approach to Resolving the Animal Rights Debate

The Author: Anthony J. Cesario,
Libertarianism is understood to be a “deontological theory of law” that purportedly applies exclusively to humans [1, p. 275]. According to some libertarians, however, “one of the greatest weaknesses of libertarian theory” is that there are no provisions outlawing the abuse and torture of animals even though this seems to be one of “the most heinous acts it is possible to do” [14, p. 83]. Moreover, a few of these libertarians go even further and claim that this legal philosophy of non-aggression should actually be extended to include other animals [18]. The purpose of this paper is to reconcile this seemingly irreconcilable situation by arguing that it is a “continuum problem” and offering a principled, libertarian compromise that resolves the animal rights debate using the non-aggression principle (NAP) and private property rights [3].

Back to the Future: The Rise of Human Enhancement
and Potential Applications for Space Missions

Rapid advances in biology, electronics, computer and data science have turned invention into products, changing the lives and lifestyles of millions of people around the world. This mini-review will describe some remarkable progress made over the last 10 years which serves both healthy individuals and patients alike. With a forward looking lens towards long term space missions and the potential colonisation of the Moon and Mars, we discuss three technologies under development. We conclude with a distant looking perspective on the prospect of gene mediated human enhancement and highlight the importance of aligning benefit for people on Earth with goals for future space missions and the need to establish regulatory and ethical guidelines.

Sustaining Resources for Homo Martis: The Potential Application of Synthetic Biology for the Settlement of Mars

The recent success of the Mars 2020 project and the high quality images relayed back to Earth have provided further impetus and expectations for human missions to Mars. To support space agency and private enterprise plans to establish a sustainable colony on Mars in the 2030s, synthetic biology may play a vital role to enable astronaut self-sufficiency. In this review, we describe some aspects of where synthetic biology may inform and guide in situ resource utilisation strategies. We address the nature of Martian regolith and describe methods by which it may be rendered fit for purpose to support growth and yield of bioengineered crops. Lastly, we illustrate some examples of innate human adaptation which may confer characteristics desirable in the selection of colonists and with a future looking lens, offer potential targets for human enhancement.

Exploring Perceptions of Religion and Science among Turkish Academics

The religiosity of academics has been studied for over a decade. With few exceptions, this research has been conducted on American “elite” scientists, and data from non-Western countries is lacking. Drawing from psychological and sociological literature, the present exploratory study investigates the religiosity of Turkish academics (N = 361) and their perceptions on the relationship between religion and science, and associated variables such as interpretation of the Quran, and belief in evolution and creationism. Moreover, we address criticism directed at previous research by probing for different God concepts among believing academics. Although cultural differences can be identified, the results generally support the idea that academics are less religious with 54% identifying as “less religious” or “not religious,” compared to 24.2% self-identifying as “religious” or “extremely religious.”