New Methuselahs: The Ethics of Life Extension (Basic Bioethics)
An examination of the ethical issues raised by the possibility of human life extension, including its desirability, unequal access, and the threat of overpopulation.
Life extension—slowing or halting human aging—is now being taken seriously by many scientists. Although no techniques to slow human aging yet exist, researchers have successfully slowed aging in yeast, mice, and fruit flies, and have determined that humans share aging-related genes with these species. In New Methuselahs, John Davis offers a philosophical discussion of the ethical issues raised by the possibility of human life extension. Why consider these issues now, before human life extension is a reality? Davis points out that, even today, we are making policy and funding decisions about human life extension research that have ethical implications. With New Methuselahs, he provides a comprehensive guide to these issues, offering policy recommendations and a qualified defense of life extension.
After an overview of the ethics and science of life extension, Davis considers such issues as the desirability of extended life; whether refusing extended life is a form of suicide; the Malthusian threat of overpopulation; equal access to life extension; and life extension and the right against harm. In the end, Davis sides neither with those who argue that there are no moral objections to life enhancement nor with those who argue that the moral objections are so strong that we should never develop it. Davis argues that life extension is, on balance, a good thing and that we should fund life extension research aggressively, and he proposes a feasible and just policy for preventing an overpopulation crisis.
Praise for New Methuselahs: The Ethics of Life Extension (Basic Bioethics)
“John K. Davis advances a bold claim about human life extension.”
—Notre Dame Philosophical Reviews
“Highly accessible, informative, and well-balanced. Indeed, the entire book is written in such a conversational and entertaining way that at first you might think it was aimed at a general audience.”
—Hastings Center Report
“New Methuselahs provides a great investigation into the ethics of life extension. It provides bold, thought‐provoking policy suggestions, which will no doubt stimulate future work on the topic. Anyone with an interest in life extension and ethics should read it.”
“Whether or not adding a century or two to the human life span ought to be a priority is an ethical problem -- not that it will be answered as one. The potential rewards of throwing money at the first really promising development makes superlongevity a tech bubble bound to happen.”
—Chronicle of Higher Education