X-Message-Number: 12205
From: Thomas Donaldson <>
Subject: comments for John de Rivaz
Date: Thu, 29 Jul 1999 00:07:06 +1000 (EST)

For John de Rivaz:

You touch on what may become a major difference between the present and a
time when people expect to live for centuries or more. 

Right now, we can look back on many atrocities of distant past history.
Caesar, for instance, routinely annihilated various tribes in his march
through Europe, and discussed these actions proudly. More recently, we
have the Nazis; at the risk of being accused of all kinds of things, I
will say that if the Nazis had existed 200 years ago, and did all the
things attributed to them, no one then would have been disturbed in the
least. Even in the US, it's known that several Founding Fathers (such
as Thomas Jefferson) kept slaves as concubines. Our sensitivity about pain
inflicted on people of other nations, groups, and religions has increased a 
good deal. That increase in sensitivity is a GOOD THING, but if we start 
judging people of previous eras by the criteria of the present we might 
easily decide that every one of those people was guilty of major crimes.

Is this a problem if we all start living for hundreds of years? What we'll
have to realize is that VALUES CHANGE. Often that change is positive, but
it also means (if we live long enough) that we ourselves will have been
guilty of things which if done now would be crimes. Actions appropriate
to someone who simply did not understand that cryonics might work, at a
time when there were very few cryonicists, differ from those appropriate
to someone when cryonics (some day!) becomes widespread. 

No, John, I do not believe that the actions you describe in your example
should be the subject of any lawsuits. If the person who destroyed much
of a patient's brain decides, of his/her own accord, to give help to
those he or she injured so unwittingly, that would be good. But any 
judgement of someone's actions will have to take account of the beliefs
of the time. To do otherwise would eventually mark us all as criminals.

And yes, this means that we may see much more tolerance with immortality
than we see now. It's not that long-lived people will tolerate actions
seen at the time to be bad, but that they will tolerate everyone's PAST
actions if the widespread belief at that time was that they were somehow

			Best and long long life to all,

				Thomas Donaldson

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