[ExI] Medical power of attorney for cryonicsts

Anders Sandberg anders at aleph.se
Fri Dec 5 23:23:54 UTC 2014

spike <spike66 at att.net> , 5/12/2014 3:23 AM:

There is a man here who I know from long association is one who always does the right thing, who loves humanity and has useful insights into ethics, Anders Sandberg.  I want to hear his take.  Anders, where are ye, lad?

Hi! Always happy to do a think about things like this, for what it is worth. 

Medical ethics at its simplest typically runs the issue past the Beauchamp principles: http://www.ukcen.net/index.php/ethical_issues/ethical_frameworks/the_four_principles_of_biomedical_ethics
Does the treatment respect the autonomy of the patient? (this is where informed consent comes in, as well as the right to withdraw for any reason)Does the treatment in expectation help the patient more than it causes risk? (This is where things are tricky with experimental drugs.)Does the treatment have some risks of harm that are unacceptable? Can they be reduced? (the thyroid thing seems to be related to this)Does the treatment cause injustice? (This is why I think reporting is important: it spreads the benefit of the experiment even if it doesn't work out. And this is also why super-expensive treatments might be problematic. )
I think this situation right now is fine, but you will get into autonomy trouble if the AD gets worse. At what point should others override the impaired autonomy of the patient? This is where advance directives are *really* good.

Overall, I think the project is good.

 If on the other hand, we run this test on a willing and informed patient and see that it does help, I feel morally obligated to report it.

You should try reporting it if it doesn't help either. Gathering information is good! 

You can reduce the risk to desperate patients by how you publish the results - find a doctor and turn it into a case study rather than shout it from the rooftops. That way, if things look good, it will be easier to recruit more medical people to pursue it. 

Often, real ethics is not about getting a perfect answer but figuring out where potential problems are and deflecting or ameliorating them - talk to involved people, document what is done and why, check that there are no strong reasons against what you plan to do. Nothing fancy, but very useful. 

Anders Sandberg, Future of Humanity Institute Philosophy Faculty of Oxford University
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