X-Message-Number: 23775
Date: Mon, 29 Mar 2004 22:35:32 -0700
From: Mike Perry <>
Subject: Life extension and "selfishness"

Linda, #23769:
>For people who have lived a long
>healthy life, isn't it selfish  to want  to extend that life further?
>The planet can only support so many people.  What about all the "souls "
>that are going to be born?    Just wondering.

A number of responses are possible, other than simply being 
anti-life-extensionist. As for "the planet can only support so many 
people," people could move off-planet; this will no doubt be a future 
possibility along with control of aging. (True, this solution will not work 
indefinitely, unless exponential population growth is halted or some very 
exotic possibilities with physics are realized, but would give us breathing 
room.) "What about all the 'souls' that are going to be born?" You are, 
evidently, assuming that many, many more people are going to be born in a 
relatively short time, which is not a foregone conclusion. (Generally, 
birth rates are falling worldwide. They might fall much faster still if the 
prospect developed of substantial, healthy life extension.) So far, the 
number of cryonicists is a most insignificant fraction of the world's 
population anyway, and would have virtually no effect on the population 

"For people who have lived a long healthy life, isn't it selfish to want to 
extend that life further?" If this is made into a positive assertion it is 
likely to raise hackles among cryonicists. Actually, I see two senses of 
"selfish"--only one with negative connotations. If you draw breath or eat a 
meal, that's "selfish" isn't it?--done for reasons of self-interest. Yet 
this sort of thing doesn't seem wrong, it's not unreasonably selfish. (A 
bank robber is normally being unreasonably selfish, however. Another point 
sometimes made is that all motivation is selfish in some sense, so you 
can't escape being "selfish" and at best can only make it reasonable and 
enlightened.) We cryonicists generally feel that for us to want to go on 
living, however long, is not unreasonably selfish, but a system that would 
stand in the way of that--demanding we die at some point--would be 
unreasonable in some way. Many of us too are confident that in the future 
any problems that would be solved by our death could be handled better 
without it. Personally I think it is possible, and rewarding, to do enough 
*good* in the world to justify one's continued presence in a state of 
health and competence, for however long. A life rightly lived is never 
rightly ended.

Mike Perry

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