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Call for Papers | The Society for Social and Conceptual Issues in Astrobiology, June 3-5, 2024

The Society for Social and Conceptual Issues in Astrobiology (SSoCIA) will hold its fifth biennial meeting June 3-5, 2024 in Rovaniemi, Finland. SSoCIA is an international and highly interdisciplinary group of scholars and other experts dedicated to investigation of the many social, cultural, and conceptual issues surrounding humanity’s future in space. For our 2024 meeting, we welcome submissions addressing any of the many “broader questions” in astrobiology and space exploration. Previous presentations have included:

  • Should there be private property in space?
  • Is human colonization of other worlds morally permissible?
  • Should we attempt to contact extraterrestrial intelligence (METI)?
  • What does “pollution” mean in the context of a lifeless world?
  • What is “life”?
  • What moral obligations might we have towards extraterrestrials?
  • How can we overcome problems inherent in interspecies communication?
  • What would be the religious significance of a “second genesis”?
  • How should off world colonies be governed?
  • Is the prime directive an appropriate ethical principle to use for first contact?
  • How do our attitudes towards space reflect unexamined cultural tropes?
  • How can we use astrobiology to further science education?


This year, we are very fortunate to have an excellent keynote speaker in Dr. Tony Milligan:

Dr. Tony Milligan is a research fellow in Ethics at Kings College, London whose research focuses on otherness: other humans, other creatures, other places and how the shift between here and there alters our sense of what matters. His work in space ethics, including Nobody Owns the Moon: The Ethics of Space Exploitation (MacFarland, 2015) and the co-edited volume The Ethics of Space Exploration (Springer, 2016) emerge out of his work in this area with various colleagues, in Europe and the U.S., who are keen to boost this emerging discipline. His work is closely connected to an understanding of what it takes to be human, what it is like to see ourselves as part of a moral community, and the associated duties that we may have to humanity.

If you wish to be considered, submit a 250-word abstract for a presentation or poster (please specify) by January 31, 2024 to the program chair, Kelly Smith (kcs@clemson.edu). Additional information about the conference will be posted to our website (ssocia.space) when it becomes available. Graduate students are especially encouraged to apply and we anticipate having support to facilitate their participation.

Dr. Kelly C. Smith is Professor of Philosophy & Biological Sciences at Clemson University. Kelly received his M.S. in Biology from Duke University in 1992, followed by his Ph.D. in Philosophy in 1994. Kelly’s research is wide ranging and includes work on philosophical issues surrounding the search for life on other planets, the concept of “genetic disease,” the relationship between religious faith and scientific reasoning, ethical implications of new technologies, complex systems in developmental and evolutionary biology, and the origins and nature of life.