[extropy-chat] frozen in fire

Anders Sandberg asa at nada.kth.se
Sun Jan 21 03:55:10 UTC 2007

spike wrote:
>> bounces at lists.extropy.org] On Behalf Of Anders Sandberg
> ...
>> "If the clinic is burning, should you save a dewar with a few hundred
>> frozen fertilized embryos or a child?" ... Anders Sandberg,
> Anders, this one is easy.  The living child has humans who have
> emotionally
> bonded to her, the embryos not.  As a new parent, I do know how that
> feels,
> and would never question for a second the rightness of saving the child.

That is of course the point of the scenario. It makes the bioconservatives
very uncomfortable, and so far I have not heard a consistent argument from
them why they would save the child yet claim there is a lot more persons
in the dewar.

The emotional bond aspect is interesting. Do you think the emotional bond
has an ethical value on its own?

> Additionally, we can easily make a bunch of new frozen fertilized embryos,
> more than can be reasonably brought to term.  Another argument is that
> there
> is an excellent chance all the embryos in the dewar would survive the
> fire,
> as a dewar and a bunch of LN2 would be a great fire shield.

The last one is cheating in a philosophical gedanken because it brings in
common sense and real physics. It is against the rules of the game. An
engineer would not choose between switching a runaway trolley onto a track
where it would crush 10 people and switching it onto a track where it
would kill just one, he would use the switch and some nearby junk to
derail it so nobody got hurt except the ethical dilemma :-)

Anders Sandberg,
Oxford Uehiro Centre for Practical Ethics
Philosophy Faculty of Oxford University

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