Extraterrestrial Altruism

Evolution and Ethics in the Cosmos

  • Douglas A. Vakoch

Part of the The Frontiers Collection book series (FRONTCOLL)

Table of contents

  1. Front Matter
    Pages i-xv
  2. Introduction

    1. Front Matter
      Pages 1-1
  3. The Evolution of Altruism: Is Transmitting Dangerous?

  4. Inferring Altruism

  5. Universal Ethics and Law

    1. Front Matter
      Pages 209-209
    2. Holmes Rolston III
      Pages 211-222
    3. George F. R. Ellis
      Pages 223-229
  6. Representing Altruism

  7. Back Matter
    Pages 309-329

About this book


Extraterrestrial Altruism examines a basic assumption of the Search for Extraterrestrial Intelligence (SETI): that extraterrestrials will be transmitting messages to us for our benefit. This question of whether extraterrestrials will be altruistic has become increasingly important in recent years as SETI scientists have begun contemplating transmissions from Earth to make contact.

Should we expect altruism to evolve throughout the cosmos, or is this only wishful thinking? Would this make biological sense? Is it dangerous to send messages to other worlds, as Stephen Hawking has suggested? Would extraterrestrial societies be based on different ethical principles? Extraterrestrial Altruism explores these and related questions about the motivations of civilizations beyond Earth, providing new insights that are critical for SETI.

Chapters are authored by leading scholars from diverse disciplines—anthropology, astronomy, biology, chemistry, computer science, cosmology, engineering, history of science, law, philosophy, psychology, public policy, and sociology. The book is carefully edited by Douglas Vakoch, Director of Interstellar Message Composition at the SETI Institute and professor of clinical psychology at the California Institute of Integral Studies. The Foreword is by Frank Drake.

This interdisciplinary book will benefit everybody trying to understand whether evolution and ethics are unique to Earth, or whether they are built into the fabric of the universe.


Are ETs Altruistic? Conflict and Predation Contact with Extraterrestrials Interstellar communication Models of Altruism SETI Searching for Extraterrestrial Intelligence Universal Ethics

Editors and affiliations

  • Douglas A. Vakoch
    • 1
  1. 1.SETI Institute Director of Interstellar Message ComposiMountain ViewUSA

Bibliographic information

  • DOI
  • Copyright Information Springer-Verlag Berlin Heidelberg 2014
  • Publisher Name Springer, Berlin, Heidelberg
  • eBook Packages Physics and Astronomy
  • Print ISBN 978-3-642-37749-5
  • Online ISBN 978-3-642-37750-1
  • Series Print ISSN 1612-3018
  • Buy this book on publisher's site