In a 1940s – style hospital room, after 70 years, Captain America finally woke up with a healthy and alive body. Nowadays, this is not only a suspended animation, cryonics give us a chance to come back to life.
“Cryonics is the process of preserving a whole body in the hope that resuscitation and a cure are possible in the distant future.”
Although Cryonics brings us hope in both life and scientific development; it is still in early stage that Cryonics will damage the bodies and cause some further moral and legal issues.
The current applications of cryonics could be concluded by these two words – “Wait and hope”. From smallpox to tuberculosis, more and more terminal illnesses have been defeated by human. This convinces those who suffer from incurable diseases that there will be a cure in the future, and cryonics offers them such a chance to “travel” to this future.
Although the final success of cryonics is not guaranteed, 1821 patients had signed up for cryogenically frozen at the Cryonics Institute by the end of 2017. Their choices are morally supported by the freedom principle as they are acting under their own will using their own money.
“…I think being cryopreserved gives me a chance to be cured and woken up – even in hundreds of years’ time…” – from a dying girl to a High Court judge
In 2016, a 14-year-old girl, who wish to be cryogenically frozen due to a terminal cancer, won a landmark legal fight against her father while her mother supports her. This court case reflects the utility principle which suggests that the girl’s happiness should be the primary concern and the greatest number of family members should be satisfied. Also, the High Court judge’s decision, which bringed the greatest happiness to this family, satisfied the rule utilitarianism.
“The Earth is the cradle of humanity, but mankind cannot stay in the cradle forever.” —KONSTANTIN TSIOLKOVSKY
For centuries, adventurers have dreamed of the day when travelling to MARS just like in science fiction. However, the biggest difficulty facing astronauts has been how to keep their bodies alive and healthy on the incredibly lengthy journeys through space. (Anthony Blair)
According to Professor Craig Patten, six crews would need 1,500 tons of supplies for travelling to MARS, which means it would take around 60 shuttle launches and result unimaginable cost and technical obstacles.
An alternate feasible solution towards the future is given by Dennis Kowalski, President of Cryonics Institute. Place crew in inactive, low-metabolic Torpor state for mission transfer phases by leveraging evolving medical advances in Therapeutic Hypothermia and Total Parenteral Nutrition (SpaceWorks) to eliminate ancillary crew accommodations and reduce mission consumables and pressurized volume due to inactive crews.
A Cost – Benefit Analysis was implemented by NASA and based on Kant’s Hypothetical (Conditional) Norm; cryonics is the only feasible approach for human exploration to MARS. Atlanta-based Spaceworks Enterprises is using a $500,000 grant from NASA to transfer techniques used on Cryonics to develop “Low Metabolic Stasis” for missions to Mars.
Furthermore, Kant’s Duty Ethics indicates that governments and scientists have the obligation to explore the plentiful resources in the space to ensure Human’s Long – Term Survival. Hence cryonics provides us a great opportunity to make human space exploration and migration to MARS come true.
Do not disturb!
The definition of Death
In terms of legal death, patients are dead when their heartbeat is stopped or their brain functions are totally lost. Although cryonics patients are considered legally dead, they have the chance to ‘revive’ in the future. The determination of their death after frozen is complex.
For example, their spouses are unable to remarry and their family have to pay for taxes for their assets as patients are classified as alive. On the other hand, if patients are pronounced to be dead, their estates do not belong to them anymore. If they are revived within dozens of years, this will lead to social issues. In several countries, cryonics is illegal. According to duty ethics, an action is morally right if it agrees with the law. A wish for cryopreservation may be against the law and the duty ethics.
“Nothing is certain but death and taxes.” — Benjamin Franklin
It indicates the equality before human death. As stated in the equality postulate, individuals should be treated with equal concern and respect. When Cryonics is proved to be successful and provides the prospect of avoiding death in the future, an unequal access to Cryonics will lead to a violation of the equality. However, the majority of population is not able to afford the expense of preservation and revival.
Furthermore, if Cryonics can only be provided for a limited number of people, a huge amount of people will be dissatisfied which eventually leads to social conflicts. utilisation principle suggests that one should choose those actions that result in the greatest happiness for the greatest number. Can the immorality of minority bring the majority of human happiness?
Respect for Autonomy:
As ‘Principles of Biomedical Ethics’ noted, Cryonic preservation have offended a patient’s autonomy. An indispensable part of Autonomy is the right to control the method of dying by himself, yet Cryonics disenfranchise this right. Frozen men cannot choose the time, place and method of reviving in future. Their lives are under the control of the decision-maker. In other words, cryonics patients will be treated as objects. It violates reciprocity principle. it expresses that acts as to treat humanity in every case as an end but never as means only. In addition, earthquake, war and other uncontrollable factors may eradicate their Cryopreservation. Nobody could speak for their autonomy when they are frozen.
Considering the potential benefits that cryonics may bring to society and humanity including the applications in medical field and in the space travel, further study of cryopreservation should be permitted by the governments. The existing laws and ethical systems are apparently not ready for immortality. Under the foreseeable challenge from Cryonics, they will have to be modified to revolve the possible social issues such as adjusting the definition of death and securing the welfares of revived individuals.