Ethics and Space Exploration

1448 words 6 pages
Ethics and Space Exploration
Christen Boyd
PHI107: Philosophy of Human Conduct
Prof. Carol Parker
October 14, 2010

Ethics and Space Exploration

In recent years, there has been a rise in debate over government spending on space exploration. It is hard to say that the deck is stacked in either way. There is much validity in the arguments from both sides of the gun. In this debate, I believe, the sides are both coming from the perspective of utilitarian ethics. Basically, it is a disagreement on which view’s decision will benefit the most people and cause the least amount of pain. Is it better to look toward the future? Or, is it more important to concentrate on the present? How do you compare pleasures that aren’t certainly known?
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Louis Friedman complaining about NASA deleting more than two billion dollars from Mars mission planning, including a sample return mission and the Mars Telecommunication Orbiter. (Hedman, 2005) Could the loss of funds be sabotaging the space program’s ability to conduct proper experiments and exploration? Dr. Friedman also argues that we must not lose sight of our goals. He goes on to say, “Americans are a competitive group and don’t want anyone else to set foot on Mars before we do. Using that fire is one of the best motivations to keep Congress and the next several administrations on our side.” (Hedman, 2005) Space exploration advocates believe, that the fight, over funding and the belief that too much money is being spent when it is needed elsewhere, is purely a hollow and irrelevant argument. In 2010, the Treasury Department spent $414 Billion on interest payments to the holders of the National Debt, compared to NASA at $19 Billion, Education at $53 Billion, and Department of Transportation at $73 Billion. (Simmons, 2010) In 2005, NASA had a budget of $16.2 billion, this includes not only the human spaceflight division, but also other engineering projects, and science funded by NASA. The total federal


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