Chapter

Engineering substantially prolonged human lifespans: biotechnological enhancement and ethics

Peter Derkx

in Valuing older people

Published by Policy Press

Published in print July 2009 | ISBN: 9781847422927
Published online March 2012 | e-ISBN: 9781447304173 | DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.1332/policypress/9781847422927.003.0011
Engineering substantially prolonged human lifespans: biotechnological enhancement and ethics

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Before embarking on an ethical discussion, this chapter begins by distinguishing four possible outcomes of a biotechnological enhancement of the human lifespan – extended morbidity, compressed morbidity, decelerated senescence, and arrested senescence. The author summarises the major ethical arguments for and against effective substantial extension of the human lifespan through four categories: autonomy, beneficence (including non-maleficence), distributive justice, and meaning of life. The chapter explicates that decisions about priorities in medical and biotechnological research will have impacts on future generations. Society must be conscientious in its judgements about what is good for future people. The author argues that research on meanings of life, the value of old age, and a just and humane society requires approaches and methods fitting the subject of investigation, and in this area research confining itself to a ‘hard’ laboratory approach is often inappropriate.

Keywords: biotechnological enhancement; human lifespan; future generations; decelerated senescence; extended morbidity

Chapter.  9842 words. 

Subjects: Gerontology and Ageing

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