Keeping our eggs in earth’s basket: the anti-natalist case against space colonisation

Paper by Rehan Pieter Visser, published on July 1, 2018 in University of the Witwatersrand

The morality of space colonisation is yet to receive thorough examination from philosophers. I seek to address this deficit by making a case against colonising space. This case rests on a defence of antinatalism through four arguments (an argument from Immanuel Kant’s categorical imperative; David Benatar’s axiological asymmetry argument; Benatar’s argument from quality of life; and Benatar’s misanthropic argument) and an accompanying stance in favour of (non-objectionable) extinction. I respond to challenges and objections against both positions and show that they fail. Because space colonisation, if successful, will likely extend humanity’s lifespan, this makes it a morally indefensible activity, insofar as it entails suffering on the part of sentient beings. I consequently argue that space colonisation ought to be prohibited. I recommend that this prohibition take the form of various additions and changes to existing international space law