Philosophy and Bioethics of Life Extension: An Analysis of Topics Found in Major Publications
In this paper, the current discussion on life extension is reviewed and analyzed from the viewpoint of philosophy and bioethics. After the publication of Leon Kass’s Beyond Therapy (2003), the issue of life extension and age retardation has come to the forefront of current bioethical discussions. I take a closer look at the discussions by such philosophers as Hans Jonas, Leon Kass, David Gems, John Harris, A. D. N. J. de Grey, John Schloendorn and Steven Horrobin, and criticize some of their arguments. My conclusion is as follows. While the conservatives’ argument does not provide a sufficient ground for prohibiting the development of life extension technologies, it successfully shows us the anxiety and suffering we might have to bear in the coming long-life society. Moreover, no matter how long our lifespan may be extended, all of us must die sooner or later, hence, the question of how to die without regret would continue to remain as a central issue even in such a society. The liberals seem to avoid this philosophical question. Finally, I want to stress that further discussion about the philosophy of life should be needed in the field of life extension and age retardation.
(The original title is: "Seienchou no Tetsugaku to Seimeirinrigaku" in Ningenkagaku, Osaka Prefecture University, Vol.2, pp.65-95 (2007))