Is living longer living better?
Temkin, Larry S.
Journal of Applied Philosophy 2008 August; 25(3): 193-210
Some day, perhaps soon, we may have genetic enhancements enabling us to conquer aging. Should we do so, if we can? I believe the topic is both interesting and important, and that it behoves us to think about it. Doing so may yield important insights about what we do care about, what we should care about, and how we should seek to live our lives, both individually and collectively. My central question is this: Is living longer, living better? My paper does not offer a sustained argument for a single, considered, thesis. Rather, it offers a number of snippets of often-unconnected thoughts relevant to the issues my question raises. The paper contains seven sections. Part one is introductory. Part two comments on some current longevity research. Part three indicates the attitudes towards death and science with which I approach these questions. Parts four and five, respectively, discuss some worries about immortality raised by Leon Kass and Bernard Williams. Part six points to some practical, social, and moral concerns that might arise if society's members lived super long lives. Part seven concludes by suggesting that we should favour living well over living longer, and ongoing reproduction over immortality; correspondingly, I suggest that we should think long and hard before proceeding with certain lines of longevity research.
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