On Cryonics and Definitions of Death

From Depressed Metabolism: "It has been said that if you want to persuade someone, you need to find common ground. But one of the defining characteristics of cryonics is that proponents and opponents cannot even seem to agree on the criteria that should be employed in discussing cryonics. The cryonics skeptic will argue that the idea of cryonics is dead on arrival because cryonics patients are dead. The response of the cryonics advocate is that death is not a state but a process and there is good reason to believe that a person who is considered dead today may not be considered dead by a future physician. In essence, the cryonics advocate is arguing that his skeptical opponent would agree with him if he would just embrace his conception of death ... Cryonicists have named their favorite conception of death 'information-theoretic death.' In a nutshell, a person is said to be dead in the information-theoretic sense of the word if no future technologies are capable of inferring the original state of the brain that encodes the person's memories and identity. There are a lot of good things to be said about substituting this more rigorous criterion of death for our current definitions of death. However, in this brief paper I will argue that our best response does not necessarily need to depend on skeptics embracing such alternative definitions of death and that we may be able to argue that opponents of cryonics should support legal protection for cryonics patients or risk contradicting conventional definitions of death."

Link: http://www.depressedmetabolism.com/2011/05/16/neural-cryobiology-and-the-legal-recognition-of-cryonics/

Comments

This is a huge issue. Death isn't a simple phenomenon where you are "on" or "off" like a light switch. Some death states are plausible to reanimate from even with contemporary medicine.

Posted by: Luke Parrish at May 20th, 2011 7:00 AM

Post a comment; thoughtful, considered opinions are valued. Comments incorporating ad hominem attacks, advertising, and other forms of inappropriate behavior are likely to be deleted.

Note that there is a comment feed for those who like to keep up with conversations.