Bioethical considerations and property rights issues associated with the discovery of extraterrestrial biological entities--implications for political policy in the context of futures studies

Kramer, William Robert
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[Honolulu] : [University of Hawaii at Manoa], [December 2012]
Although the search for extraterrestrial life is a priority for NASA and other space programs, no government has policies addressing either the bioethical or property rights issues that would quickly evolve from such a discovery. This dissertation employs methods of political futures studies to examine the interrelatedness of bioethics and intellectual property rights as they might apply to extraterrestrial life, broadly defined, and proposes policy to guide the effort. Included are discussions of biological taxonomy and the related history of largely Western bioethical philosophy and concepts of life as property. It argues that these tend to arbitrarily discriminate among organisms and allocate bioethical regard based on histories of cultural practice that are inappropriate when applied to extraterrestrial entities. Commercial and scientific research interests in extraterrestrial life also have the potential to devalue bioethical regard. The political context of outer space is discussed as an appropriate stage for expanding bioethical standards based on justice and nonviolence that could potentially be applied on Earth. Theoretical work of John Rawls and others provides guidance on how the interests of extraterrestrial life as well as future generations and post-human life might be represented. Contemporary political instruments regarding management of the biological resources of global commons areas, such as the Antarctic Treaty and the International Law of the Sea, are assessed as models for creating policies guiding extraterrestrial biological discoveries within the framework provided by the Outer Space Treaty and the Moon Treaty
Ph.D. University of Hawaii at Manoa 2012.
Includes bibliographical references.
Outer Space Treaty, Moon Treaty
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