Human Enhancement and Reproductive Ethics on Generation Ships

Argumenta:1-15 (forthcoming)
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The past few years has seen a resurgence in the public interest in space flight and travel. Spurred mainly by the likes of technology billionaires like Elon Musk and Jeff Bezos, the topic poses both unique scientific as well as ethical challenges. This paper looks at the concept of generation ships, conceptual behemoth ships whose goal is to bring a group of human settlers to distant exoplanets. These ships are designed to host multiple generations of people who will be born, live, and die on these ships long before it reaches its destination. This paper takes reproductive ethics as its lens to look at how genetic enhancement interventions can and should be used not only to ensure that future generations of offspring on the ships, and eventual exoplanet colonies, live a minimally good life but that their births are contingent on them living genuinely good and fulfilling lives. The paper makes the further claim that if such a thesis holds, it also does so for human enhancement on Earth.

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Steven Umbrello
Institute For Ethics And Emerging Technology


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