Need for deeper, more nuanced ethical & legal space-flight advice

Concerning the previous entry: The National Research Council’s Health Standards for Long Duration and Exploration Spaceflight: Ethics Principles, Responsibilities, and Decision Framework report is 172 pages long. The Academy’s press release mentions some of the book’s ethical decision-making principles for determining exceptions to usual mission-safety guidelines. The first two principles are

  • “Avoid harm by preventing harm, exercising caution, and removing or mitigating harms that occur.”
  • “Provide benefits to society.”

These sound awfully similar to how Islamic law deals with public interest and harm (maṣlaḥah and ḍarar). Eventually we’re going to arrive at a point where the chance of death is low enough that concerns for protection of life are overruled by the sure benefits of acquiring knowledge and resources.

Muslims are involved in space programs. There’s a need for Muslim scholars to provide ethical and legal advice that goes beyond a few sentences or pages.

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