Plans for humans to leave Earth and colonize new worlds are underway. Scientists in Japan are conducting experiments on mice sperm to see if they survive, and how they are affected, by space travel. Other scientists seek to answer difficult moral questions about giving birth to children in outer space, given that we know the environment to be harmful to the human body and spirit. “Philosophers call this consent to risk,” explains Cameron Smith, an anthropologist at Portland State University in Oregon. “Is it morally acceptable to put someone else at risk without their consent? That is, to have a child in those conditions?”
What’s the Big Idea?
While the first generation of space colonizers will have a strong connection to Earth, their children and grandchildren will grow increasingly distant from the mother planet. And life away from Earth would pose a set of challenges never before confronted: “Perhaps the greatest challenge for any star parents is ensuring their children have the opportunities for a good and interesting life. They are not merely born to perpetuate humanity but to live in an equitable society with options to pursue their own interests.” Modern rights such as choosing one’s job or one’s spouse could possibly be subjugated to the interests of community survival.