Extraterrestrial Liberty: What is Freedom Beyond the Earth?


An event in conjunction with the UK Centre for Astrobiology to explore the social dimensions of the permanent human settlement of space.

13 & 14 June 2013, 9.30 am – 4.30 pm

To be held at the BIS, 27/29 South Lambeth Road, London, SW8 1SZ

Co-hosted by the British Interplanetary Society and the UK Centre for Astrobiology

The question of how freedom will develop in space is one of the most compelling sociological questions in the long-term exploration and settlement of space. In this symposium, we will explore the main questions about how freedom develops in space and what the policy implications might be. Topics to be addressed include: Liberty on planetary surfaces, the rule of law in space, the nature of democracy in space, land ownership and freedom in space, the nature of tyranny in space, the independence of space settlements and extraterrestrial constitutions.

The workshop is open to anyone interested in the social implications of space exploration and settlement. It will bring together scientists, policy makers, sociologists and political philosophers.

Provisional Programme

Thursday 13 June

10:00-10:20 – Charles Cockell, Introduction, ‘Liberty in Space: More or Less Than on Earth?’

10:20-10:50 – John Cain, GeoFind Consultancy, ‘Astronaut Health: Planetary Exploration and the Limitations on Freedom’

10:50-11:10 – Discussion

11:10-11:40 – Coffee

11:40-12:10 – Rich Wylie, University of Central Lancashire, ‘Something Wonderful is Going to Happen:  Policy in the Vacuum of Space’

12:10-12:30 – Discussion

12:30-13:30 – Lunch

13.30-14.00 – Javier Martin-Torres, Spanish Center for Astrobilogy, The Fate of the Freedom of a Space Exploration Mission Encountering Life and Liberty of the “encountered” extraterrestrial beings

14.00-14.20 – Discussion

14:20-14:50 – David Baker, Spaceflight, ‘The Nature of Liberty, Freedom and Democracy and its definition for Extraterrestrial Societies’

14:50-15:10 – Discussion

15:10-15:40 – Charles Cockell, University of Edinburgh, Edinburgh, ‘Freedom in a Box: Paradoxes in the Structure of Extraterrestrial Liberty’

15:40-16:00 – Discussion

16:00-16:30 – Tony Milligan, University of Aberdeen, ‘Fear of Freedom – the Legacy of Arendt and Ballard’s Space Skepticism’

16:30-16:50 – Discussion

June 14, Friday

10:00-10:30 – Stuart Armstrong, University of Oxford, Oxford, ‘Outrunning the Law: the Ease of Intergalactic Colonisation Poses Unique Challenges for Star-spanning Civilizations’

10:30-10:50 – Discussion

10:50-11:20 – Coffee

11:20-11:50 – Paul Rosenberg, The Free-Man’s Perspective, USA: ‘Space: John Locke’s Ultimate Triumph’

11:50-12:10 – Discussion

12:10-12:40 – Stephen Baxter, Science Fiction Writer, ‘The Cold Equations: Extraterrestrial Ethics in Science Fiction’

12:40-13:00 – Discussion

13:00-14:00 – Lunch

14:00-14:30 – Ian Crawford, Birkbeck, London, ‘Interplanetary Federalism, Maximising the Chances of Extraterrestrial Liberty’

14:30-14:50 – Discussion

14:50-15:20 – Kelvin Long, Institute for Interstellar Studies, ‘Life, Liberty and the Pursuit of Happiness: Extending Personal Freedom to the Space Frontier and Managing the Consequences’.

15:20-15:40 – Discussion

15:40-16:10 – Annalea Beattie, RMIT University, ‘Extraterrestrial Freedom and Creative Practice: A Firsthand Experience of Imagining the Future’

16:10-16:30 – Discussion


Please click to register or download a registration form. Note that there is a limited number of Student places.

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