Worldwide Cryonics Attitudes About the Body, Cryopreservation, and Revival: Personal Identity Malleability and a Theory of Cryonic Life Extension

Sophia 58 (4):699-735 (2019)
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Abstract

This research examines the practice of cryonics and provides empirical evidence for an improved understanding of the motivations and attitudes of participants. Cryonics is the freezing of a person who has died of a disease in hopes of restoring life at some future time when a cure may be available. So far, about 300 people have been cryopreserved, and an additional 1200 have enrolled in such programs. The current work has three vectors. First, the results of a worldwide cryonics survey carried out as part of this research are discussed. Second, a theoretical model is developed from the survey results to propose a Theory of Cryonic Life Extension which explains an individual’s decision to select cryopreservation. Third, the most distinctive survey result, a conceptualization of personal identity malleability, is extended with a philosophical formulation. Personal identity is found to be emergent, not fundamental, and thus may continue to evolve in concept and application, particularly in the longer time frames implicated by cryonics. The potential consequences of this work are that the conceptual norms materializing in the cryonics community could be forerunners of wider societal trends of how humans understand themselves as subjects in an era increasingly configured by science and technology.

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