Manned space travel as a cultural mission

Author: Gethmann, Carl

Source: Poiesis & Praxis, Volume 4, Number 4, December 2006 , pp. 239-252(14)

Publisher: Springer

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Abstract:

All large-scale technology options in recent history were received by the public, partly with enthusiasm, partly with rejection. This applies to space exploration as a whole, but particularly to human spaceflight. However, the conclusion that human spaceflight involves huge costs for little benefit by no means justifies its rejection as a pointless endeavor. In fact, there may be a trans-utilitarian or non-monetary rationale to justify human spaceflight. Consequently we have to distinguish between utilitarian and trans-utilitarian ends of spaceflight. It is this system of utilitarian and trans-utilitarian ends, and the resources allocated to each of them, that constitutes the culture of a society. As a result, human spaceflight emerges as a cultural option. Such options neither need to be taken under all circumstances, nor does the acceptance of any such option mean that they should be exempt from further critical reflection. Rather, having considered all other cultural options, they should be pursued as far as they can be afforded.

Document Type: Research Article

DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.1007/s10202-006-0030-7

Affiliations: Email: europaeische.akademie@ea-aw.de

Publication date: December 1, 2006

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