Re: Cryonics on ABC World News Tonight

Date: Wed Feb 14 2001 - 05:20:38 MST

In a message dated 2/13/01 9:36:47 PM Central Standard Time, writes:

> At 21:10 -0800 2/12/01, Jeff Davis wrote:
> >Thus my suggestion that a malpractice lawsuit for failure to notify,
> >inform, recommend, or apply cryonic suspension as a 'final meliorative
> >clinical intervention against irreversible morbidity'.
> >
> >Let's see Peter Jennings smirk at that!
> Just what Americans need - more reasons to be litigious.
> I sincerely hope that Extropians can approach their problems more

While it is true that Americans may be "too litigious" about some things, I
have to speak up in favor of my profession here. A society that wants to
persist for any length of time has to have standards of conduct and a way to
enforce them. There really are only three choices for how to enforce
standards of social behavior: (1) enforcement by a central authority (i.e. a
state), (2) enforcement by individuals through litigation or (3) informal
social mechanisms, working through mechanisms that run the gamut from markets
to gossip. Extropians agree that the last of these is the preferred way to
order social groups, but such mechanisms can't address some kinds of outcomes
from social interaction, especially those that arise from negligent or
intentional behavior on the part of one person or group that imposes a
significant cost on another person or group that can't be easily foreseen or

The second alternative - private litigation - seems to be a second-best
alternative and, in many cases, preferable to rule-making and enforcement by
a central authority. Private action through civil litigation is more
consistent with the flexible, emergent rule-making of the common law and
maximizes the application of "local knowledge" to specific issues on a
case-by-case basis.

What you may object to is the results of litigation that have arisen in the
US over the last few decades as the web of property rights and rules
regarding the personal responsibility of plaintiffs that used to be a major
part of the common law here has eroded. That is not the fault of the basic,
time-tested system of private enforcement of rights through civil litigation,
but rather in most cases is the result of legislatures and judges that have
lost the sense of balance between "civil" rights and property rights that
marked the central strength of the Anglo-American common law until very
recent times.

       Greg Burch <>----<>
      Attorney ::: Vice President, Extropy Institute ::: Wilderness Guide -or-
                                           ICQ # 61112550
        "We never stop investigating. We are never satisfied that we know
        enough to get by. Every question we answer leads on to another
       question. This has become the greatest survival trick of our species."
                                          -- Desmond Morris

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