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Benjamin C. Kinney @BenCKinney
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#SoCIA18 is about to go back on with "Thinking like a Red: A Consideration of the Ethics of Terraforming in light of Kim Stanley Robinson's RED MARS," by Roberta Millstein.
This talk is focusing on Ann Clayborne, inadvertent founder of Reds anti-terraforming movement in the KSR books. What exactly ARE her views/arguments? They are never stated directly in the book.
Can understanding her arguments help us formulate our own arguments about/against terraforming? It seems like Ann is groping for ideas that remain poorly grasped.
We are (for this argument) assuming no indigenous Mars life, so any obligations are toward Mars itself & the non-living features. We are pro-spacegoing, but difference between "boldly go" and "boldly terraform" (learn vs transform)
Some illustrative Clayborne quotes from Red Mars. "Unique geology and chemistry... the land has to be thoroughly studied before we can start changing it." "Mars is its own place." "You can't just wipe out a 3-billion-year-old planetary surface" ...
..."[after terraforming it] we'll wonder why, when we look at the land, we can never see anyting but our own faces." "Being the consciousness of the universe does not mean turning it all into a mirror image of us."
Five themes: 1. Scientific & aesthetic reasons not to terraform. 2. History of mars (age & processes) have value. 3. Mars is independent of humans. 4. Mars shouldn't be turned into human artifact. 5. We need consistent environmental ethic across planets.
Theme1: Scientific/aesthetic. These are anthropocentric reasons, so (while good) are insufficient - they have to compete against other anthropocentric considerations.
Theme2: History Has Value. Origins of objects are part of their explanations - including wilderness' causal continuity with the past. (Argument prev used to compare natural areas to art.)
But which historical processes/entities have value? Wilderness is about valuing ecological mechanisms that maintain landscape. Naturalness (unmodified by humans) is one factor in determining environmental value. We value forest/river b/c they represent world outside our dominion.
Theme3: Mars independent of us (not for/because of us). Similar theme from philosophy: Non-Teleology. We value humans for independent (non-instrumental) existence, so for consistency, we should value non-human entities w/ independent existence.
Autonomy: if an entity's existing/functioning is independent of us, then we should recognize it also has value independent on us.
Theme4 (no mirror image/artifact): Follows from themes 2+3, because terraforming would destroy its causal continuity with the processes that created it. We'd also destroy its autonomy (exists for self, not dependent on us).
Theme5 (consistent environmental ethic): Builds on last 4 themes, plus Aldo Leopold's Land Ethic: interdependence of biotic & abiotic elements. Buuuut, hard to apply that to an abiotic Mars.
But some of this Leopold fella's ideas apply. Conquerer role (colonialism) causes bad shit. Soil/water/etc should not be seen as "resources" but as entities with right to continuous existence. On what basis should Mars be considered our resource?
So add that last bit to our initial list of values: 6. Rejection of Conquerer Role and the attitude that casts non-human entities as human "resources."

Is this defensible? Great question! This talk was just here to define the position.
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