[ExI] Human Experimenting

Stefano Vaj stefano.vaj at gmail.com
Wed May 20 20:27:19 UTC 2009

On Wed, May 20, 2009 at 10:06 PM, Tomasz Rola <rtomek at ceti.pl> wrote:
> Uhm, I doubt my English a little. Do I read you well, do you propose to
> include human experimentation into "new standards"? For the good of
> humanity, of course.

How would I propose something which is already in place, and is a
requirement, e.g., for any new drug to enter mass production? The
issue is exactly the related standards.

>> The closing decades of the last century brought confident predictions
>> from both academic and clinical researchers (scientists and physicians
>> alike) that the opening decade of this century would see, if not
>> definitive cure or control, then certainly the first truly effective
>> therapeutic drugs for cancer, ischemia-reperfusion injury (i.e. heart
> [... lots of diseases deleted ...]
> Well, they were making their predictions based on what?

I am simply quoting a previous message here. Ask the original poster.

>> In particular, relatively high-risk experimenting calls in question a
>> number of other scenarios, such as:
>> - self-experimentation by the researcher;
> Yes, this is acceptable for me. Provided their free will can be somehow
> guaranteed.

Due note taken.

>> - terminally sick patients;
> If they really want to - but most  people would like to take risks only
> if there is hope of gaining something valuable, like health or at least
> life extension. Or so I guess. It may be difficult to tell someone
> something like "we want to take your morphine back and test one substance
> on you, but one way or another no chance to get out alive".

No, the real issue is: you are going to die no matter what, *but* you
are not allowed to test such therapy because *we* did not authorise it

>> - embryos, fetuses and anencefalic newborns;
> Anencephalics may be "ok" (note the quotes), but I am cautious about the
> rest.

How an anencefalic newborn would be any "better" than, say, a 64-cell
embryo? :-)

>> - "volunteers" by way of contractual acceptance of the risk involved.
> Oh, how nice. What a big opportunity for misdemeanor... Maybe I should
> start calculating, place myself high enough in this new food chain...
> There are already "volunteers" giving their organs or being treated as
> food, all of it more or (rather) less voluntarily. Actually this
> experimentation idea seems like the next logical step, right? Ok, there
> are also people allowing transplantations of their organs after death and
> I can agree with this approach. After brain death, body can be kept
> alive for some time. I can possibly accept it, if consenting party gives
> their body to scientifical research in such case.

Admittedly, this is a sensitive issue. A libertarian would probably
have no many qualms in recognising the validity of such a contract. It
remains however debatable whether such agreements should be allowed,
as they would be most probably entered into under duress, let alone

> As a practical cynic, I guess as soon as humans give other humans right to
> possibly kill them for humanity's good, humanity will be redefined to
> small circle of criminals, with attitude like "better you die first and I
> benefit". The rest will be treated like animals, which perhaps is
> deserved ("well, you want to be our animal? you will get it").

I am not a utilitarian myself. I note however that such ethical stance
is quite popular amongst transhumanist, especially "progressive"
transhumanists, so I wonder how they would justify an opposition to
that from their own POV.

Stefano Vaj

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