SSoCIA 2020/the MPA - "Astrobiology: Philosophical Issues and Implications"

March 26, 2020 - March 29, 2020
Department of Philosophy and Religion, University of Mississippi

Oxford 38677-1848
United States

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University of Mississippi
Clemson University

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The Society for Social and Conceptual Issues in Astrobiology (SSoCIA) and the Mississippi Philosophical Association (MPA) will jointly organize the meeting SSoCIA 2020. The theme of the 2020 meeting of the MPA is "Astrobiology: Philosophical Issues and Implications." It will run as a sub-program within SSoCIA 2020.

            SSoCIA is a new organization dedicated to rigorous exploration of the many broader issues surrounding astrobiology and space exploration more generally. We are a growing community, with about 150 active members representing academics from natural science, social science, and the humanities; professionals working in the space industry; and experts from the communication, education, and science fiction communities. Our goal is to foster serious, thoughtful engagement with these issues in an informal and friendly atmosphere. 

            The MPA is devoted to increasing the understanding and appreciation of philosophy; to encouraging research and advancing the standards and ideals of the teaching of philosophy; and to cultivating an interest in the study of philosophy in Mississippi institutions of higher learning.

            This meeting will be held at the University of Mississippi March 26th-29th, 2020, with the MPA subprogram running March 27th-28th. We are pleased to have two exceptional keynote speakers:

Seth Shostak is a senior astronomer at the SETI Institute. He is well-known as an advocate for better public understanding of science and a major figure in the SETI community. He has been involved in a number of debates of interest to the SSoCIA members, most recently arguing in favor of attempts to message extraterrestrials (METI).

Simon Conway-Morris is a paleontologist and astrobiologist at the University of Cambridge and fellow of the Royal Society. He has been active in several public debates concerning the relationship between science and religion, taking strong positions against creationism and reductionism. His 2003 book, Life’s Solutions, argues that the emergence of human-like intelligence is a near inevitability on worlds with the right conditions.

We welcome abstract submissions addressing any issues in astrobiology and space exploration that go beyond the purely empirical, regardless of discipline or approach. Questions addressed in previous meetings have included:

·     What is “life”?

·     How should we treat extraterrestrials of different sorts?

·     Is human colonization of other worlds morally permissible?

·     Should we move forward with attempts to contact extraterrestrial intelligence (METI)?

·     What would be the religious significance of a second genesis?

·     To what extent can we say human and alien intelligence and motives are similar?

·     How should off world colonies be governed?

·     How can we use astrobiology to further science education?

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