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Manwon Lender

Xenology and Metalaw the laws designed for Interstellar Relations

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Manwon Lender
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The vast majority of those members of the scientific community who have seriously considered the problem believe that life exists on other planets. If, as some have suggested, there are literally hundreds of millions of human-habitable planets in our Milky Way galaxy alone, then the probability that intelligent extraterrestrials (ETs) have evolved elsewhere is extremely high.

A conference of astronomers and other scientists at the Byurakan Astrophysical Observatory (USSR) in September, 1971, arrived at the following conclusion regarding intelligences on other worlds:

The practical and philosophical significance of a successful contact with an extraterrestrial civilization would be so enormous as to justify the expenditure of substantial efforts... The technological and scientific resources of our planet are already large enough to permit us to begin investigations directed towards the search for extraterrestrial intelligence... For the first time in human history, it has become possible to make serious and detailed experimental investigations of this fundamental and important problem. [1]

Thus has CETI (Communication with Extraterrestrial Intelligence) become one of the fastest moving fields in xenology* today. Other well-developed subdisciplines of xenology include abiogenesis (origin of life research), astrogenic environment theory (habitable zones around stars, general planetology, etc.), and experimental exobiology (the Viking lander biology instrument packages).

Another fascinating xenological topic is a little-known discipline called metalaw. This term, coined [2] in 1956 by Andrew G. Haley (the world’s first space lawyer), refers to the study and development of a workable system of laws that can be applied to all our relations with alien intelligences. It is easy to see the immense significance of this.

In a galaxy so vast as ours in time and space, we are likely to meet extraterrestrial cultures at many different stages of development. However, the general view is that we are most likely to encounter races which are either much more advanced, or far less advanced, than we. This raises several very fundamental questions.

If we are the contacted race, how do we treat our visitors? Are they conquering villains, or saints bearing gifts? What rights and responsibilities should we require of them while on Earth, or in our solar system? Are their mistakes to be punished, excused for ignorance, or should they have the immunity of diplomats? Who makes these decisions?

If we are the “superior” race in a contact situation, what are our duties to the otherworlders? Should we avoid interference as much as possible so as not to damage their culture? Or should we undertake a form of direct governmental administration of their affairs, and help them scale the rocky heights of “civilization”? Are we trustees, educators, or partners? Friends or colonizers?

Each party in this prospective exchange clearly has a responsibility to the other. It is the task of metalaw, in part, to articulate these responsibilities in terms of presumed universals of justice common to all.

Metalaw and Interstellar Relations (rfreitas.com)

Edited by Manwon Lender
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Ted E Hughes

I'd never hear the terms xenology or metalaw before, so thank you. Though I knew about the search for ET life.

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Manwon Lender
27 minutes ago, ted hughes said:

I'd never hear the terms xenology or metalaw before, so thank you. Though I knew about the search for ET life.

Yes this paper is from 1977, while I was doing some research on one of the Acedemic Websites I frequent I came across this. I have not researched the author or the validity of the information, but since I had never heard of it before I thought it might create some interesting conversations, I suppose time will tell. 

Thanks for your post. 

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