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Anti-Aging Research: Ethical and Religious Perspectives

The Goodness Of Natural Limits

Are critics unnecessarily importing "moral" concerns (i.e., "moralizing") into the antiaging field? Where are ethical and theological proscriptions legitimate, if at all?

The bioethical critics of antiaging research and radical life extension lament the fact that "we" are unable to accept death, that we rage against it to the point of wishing to overcome it with emergent technological sophistication. Bioethicist Daniel Callahan argues that we must learn to accept the idea of a "natural life span," one that might reach its conclusion sometime around age eighty, for then surely we have more or less had adequate time to enjoy our creative capacities, raise children, and experience what life has to offer. Leon Kass, with great eloquence and depth, highlights the importance of life-span limits in making room for new generations who deserve to take their rightful place in the world. Theologians speak meaningfully about aging and death as natural solutions to the human problem of solipsism—that is, our human tendency to see ourselves as the center of the universe and to value others only as they contribute to our own agendas "in orbit around ourselves." Aging and death encourage within us an "ontological humility." After all, the argument concludes, it is a blessing to die because life becomes a dreary business, and its brevity allows us to value the time that we have.

Additional topics

Medicine EncyclopediaAging Healthy - Part 1Anti-Aging Research: Ethical and Religious Perspectives - Cautious Ethical Optimism, The Goodness Of Natural Limits, Conclusions