X-Message-Number: 16471
Date: Fri, 08 Jun 2001 10:00:10 -0700
From: Mike Perry <>
Subject: Swayze; Rights and what's "right"; Alzheimer's

>Message #16458
>Date: Thu, 7 Jun 2001 11:14:11 EDT
>Subject: Swayze, Perry/Mill
>I have been trying for some time to come up with a proposal to him and to the
>  CI Board of Directors to help James Swayze obtain cryo service through CI.
>Still working on it.

I'm glad to hear this and hope you or someone is successful in helping him 
get arrangements in place.

>Mike Perry mentions Mill's assertion that coercion of anyone is permissible
>only for the protection of others, not for his own help or protection.
>That's greatly oversimplified, not to mention that it's merely an opinion.
>Surely you can (and should, if necessary) coerce your child not to harm or
>endanger herself. And if you once admit that, how can you draw a clear line
>between a child and someone who is child-like in certain respects, stupid or
>ignorant or weak?

Good points to raise. I thought about this briefly when I was writing my 
post the other night, knowing I didn't have time to do it justice (and time 
is so often in short supply, at least for me). I said, "Mill's principle, 
reasonably understood, is something I and probably many if not most others 
on this list accept." I hoped that "reasonably understood" would suggest 
that indeed one does not always advocate letting someone do what they want, 
as when a little child wants to drink a bottle of bleach. Louis Epstein in 
#16343 also touches on this issue (once again!) when he refers to the 
Deathist Lurker Girl: "I don't reject the DLG to the point of not caring 
enough about her to be willing to help grab her arms and drag her kicking 
and screaming to the lifeboat under the disapproving stares of Mike Perry 
and Jeffrey Soreff." I want the DLG to live too, very much, but hesitate at 
the idea of forcing someone against their will. It's a moral dilemma, and I 
agree that one must be careful in applying Mill's principle if one is to 
uphold it. (And Louis, *you* aren't in the lifeboat either, yet. Shall I 
drag you, "kicking and screaming"?)

Robert goes on to note:

>An opinion opposite to that of Mill was taken by the various churches,
>especially the Roman Catholics in earlier times. They held--very
>logically--that not only coercion but even torture was permissible for the
>supremely important goal of saving souls.

I can see this as a rational position too, providing they were right about 
"souls" and that their policy would "save" them--but that's the rub, isn't it?

>In the cryonics context, a question is whether you should freeze a relative
>who had not wanted it, if you have that option around the time of his death.
>Certainly a case can be made for disregarding the decedent's wishes.

Yes, I have to concede that too. In my book I wrestle with this issue. Some 
relevant material is quoted:

"An interesting moral conundrum would then arise in the case of people who 
insist on their tissues and DNA not being preserved in the event of death. 
To shorten a possibly long argument, I think such people have a right to 
arrange for cremation at death and/or other destruction of effects, 
possibly including all copies of the genome. (By the same token, a person 
who so wishes has the right not to be frozen or preserved in some other 
manner.) Though I do not think self-destruction is the best course, the 
right-respecting stance:: must be considered carefully. I think it can be 
justified on the principle of there being at least some significant 
uncertainty that the denial of rights would be better, while the person in 
question is still alive and considers the exercise of those rights 
important. Such denial is, in particular, a slippery slope that can easily 
lead to a worse situation if not very carefully limited.

"People should instead have a right to believe or think as they wish and 
practice accordingly, respecting the rights of others in turn. This tells 
us, though, that even the respect of rights has rightful limits. Arbitrary 
 rights  would include the right to limit the rights of others something 
has to give. More to the point here, persons of today cannot expect that 
their wishes will be faithfully respected for all time, particularly if 
those persons are not present in a functioning form as advocates."

>Message #16459
>Date: Thu, 07 Jun 2001 10:00:23 -0700
>From: Max More <>
>Subject: Alzheimer's and memory loss
> >That is clearly NOT the assumption. It is certain, that
> >Alzheimer's and brain tumours destroy memory. While we all
> >believe, that it will eventually become possible to repair any
> >part of the body (this assertion is fudamental to cryonics),
> >destroyed memory will be lost.
>You say it is "certain" that Alzheimer's destroys memory. Is that really
>true? I'd appreciate hearing from someone who really knows the current
>science in this area. I'm suspicious of the above claim because (a) people
>with Alzheimer's seem to sometimes recall things and sometimes not; (b)
>memory is not a single process. It may be that the ability to *retrieve*
>memories is damaged by Alzheimer's, but perhaps the memories are still
>there and retrieval abilities could be repaired. This point goes along with
>the first point -- even normal people sometimes have difficulty accessing a
>memory even though they know it's there, and it often pops into mind later on.

I and others have used Alzheimer's disease as an example of a condition 
we'd want to opt out of early, by a premortem cryonic suspension. That this 
would be the right choice to make seems clear beyond a reasonable doubt, 
*if* we can assume indeed that Alzheimer's will rob you of your identity if 
it is unchecked. But of course, we really don't know that either. However, 
I still feel that a person should be allowed to choose a premortem 
suspension under such an apparently grave threat.

Mike Perry

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