Planetary Protection: A Contemporary Challenge for Humankind
Our recent attempts to analyze Mars and the ongoing discovery of exoplanets raise questions regarding the nature and aims of our scientific and technological enterprise. My work focuses on the issue of “planetary sustainability;” I extend the concept of sustainability into our solar system to safeguard the sustainable development of life on earth and beyond, be it of human or of other origin. I make use of the method constructive-critical realism (CCR). CCR is a form of realism that allows for a good degree of constructivism, especially regarding cultural objects. The concept assumes that in the researching processes of science (and in the application of their outcomes as well), cultural construction carrying ethical decisions is taking place, which need to be orientated constructive-critically. To prevent lasting damage to our ecosystem, we have to take care of the sustainability of our actions. Hence, the idea of CRR will be applied to this question, involving not only ecological (natural, so to say) sustainability, but also economic, social and especially cultural dimensions, which are relatively new to be considered. The method of CCR is able to cope with and to integrate such cultural convictions, without losing sight of the constraints of the one natural reality of which we are part.
Andreas Losch studied protestant theology and Jewish Studies in Bochum, Wuppertal, Jerusalem and Heidelberg. His award-winning PhD adressed the epistemological foundations of the dialogue between theology and the sciences. He had been managing editor of the Martin Buber edition and currently works as coordinator of the project “Life beyond our planet?” at the Center for Space and Habitability, University of Bern. Losch is member of the COST Action “Life ORIGINS” and serves in the council of the European Society for the Study of Science and Theology. He is also editor-in-chief of the website www.theologie-naturwissenschaften.de, a German forum for dialogue between theology and the sciences.