Re: Fwd: [la-grg] Alliance for Aging Research Political Manifesto

From: Samantha Atkins (
Date: Thu Mar 15 2001 - 03:15:45 MST

"Robert J. Bradbury" wrote:
> Max/Michael/James:
> It wasn't clear to me in my original reading of the post
> that AAR was coming out against the quotes in Steve's letter.
> You can find a pointer to the cleaned up letter and some
> further references under:
> Now, one should be very careful when one argues these areas
> (instead of having a knee jerk response that quotes taken
> out of context are designed to generate).
> For example, even I would argue that spending huge amounts of
> money on medical treatments for people in the last year of
> their life is a complete waste and such funds could be much
> better used making micro-loans in third world banks. Many more
> lives would be saved.

First, it depends on whose funds they are. Second, these medical
treatments often push the state of the art in medicine which has a
direct effect on the health and longevity of the population. Third,
micro-loans may or may not be a good thing in local third world
economies but they are not necessarily more likely to change the state
of our knowledge and overall abilities. Without changes to our overall
abilities concerning longetivity and human wellbeing and enhancement a
few micro-loans more or less won't make much real difference.

> Callahan has done a lot of research into the misapplication
> of funds in medical care. His positions are based on
> learning to make rational tradeoffs on the allocation of
> scarce resources. Chapman is making a reasonable moral
> argument that I would agree has strong merits.

What "scarce resources"? Belonging to whom? On what basis?
Distributable by whom? Why?
> If one condition were met, I would agree with these two
> indivduals -- "that we knew for a fact that the indefinite
> extension of human life is impossible"!

A lot depends on what is meant by "human life". With full medical MNT
there is no reason I am aware of why indefinite extension is not
possible. Personally I would want to change from the standard human
form after a few dozen decades though.
> If that statement could be proven true, then their positions
> would be entirely defensible. But because it cannot be

Of course it can't be "proven true" because that would require proving
the limits of all possible future technologies which is clearly

> proven true, then one has a triangle shaped-slippery slope.
> Up until the point that you know you can indefinitely
> extend the lifespan, allocating resources for people
> at the end of their lives is a waste relative to allocating
> resources to people at the beginning of their lives.

Says who? This does not follow.

> However as soon as it becomes relatively clear that the
> sea-saw is about to flip, it becomes a totally different
> picture. Resolving the question of what fraction of
> your resources should be devoted to accellerating the
> day when the paradigm flips is a very difficult question.

Whose resources? Why is it difficult? If I decide to invest my funds
in one direction or the other then why is it anyone else's issue or
business how I invest my funds and energy? It seems to me that a lot of
the "difficult question" comes from assuming that we are speaking of
some public pot of funds and resources to be administered by some
bureaucracy. Perhaps the difficulty grows as much or more from that
assumption and form of decision making in and of itself than the type of
decisions and choices we are talking about.

- samantha

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