Chapter

Extra Long Life

Margaret Pabst Battin

in Ending Life

Published in print May 2005 | ISBN: 9780195140279
Published online October 2011 | e-ISBN: 9780199850280 | DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.1093/acprof:oso/9780195140279.003.0014
Extra Long Life

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The prospect of extra-long life spawns a bloom of ethical issues, among them how to achieve intergenerational equity; how to balance health care entitlements with rising costs for the elderly; how to divide years of life between work and retirement; how to assign the responsibilities of young family members for care of the old; and how to answer philosophical questions about the meaning of life, the “naturalness” of the human life span, and the wisdom of “tampering” with nature. At least three scenarios of extra-long life can be imagined for future generations proximate to our own: the longer-health scenario, the longer-dying scenario, and the longer-decline scenario. The human life span might be expanded in many ways. Improved disease prevention; life-style regulation; dietary matching of individual needs with available foodstuffs; understanding of human physiology and the way it is affected by exercise, stress, and caloric intake; and better management of depression and mental illness might all contribute to longer life.

Keywords: intergenerational equity; ethical issues; life span; longer-health scenario; longer-dying scenario; longer-decline scenario; disease prevention; physiology; depression; mental illness

Chapter.  5276 words. 

Subjects: Moral Philosophy

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