Volume 64, 2018
Philosophy of Technology
Aging, Death, and the Ethics of Life Extending Technologies
In his paper “Is Ageing Bad for us?” (2011) Michael Hauskeller claims that because aging and death are not bad for us, we are in no hurry to develop means for radical life extension. Looking into this claim, I argue that Hauskeller’s conclusion is too strong. Even if we accept that aging and death are not bad for us, it does not follow that we could not still appreciate a long life over them. More important, accepting the harmlessness of aging and death does not imply that we should restrict the development of considerable life extension technologies. I suggest that even though Hauskeller’s argument is interesting, it is not enough to make any statements about the overall desirability of developing life extension technologies. He ignores several other lines of argumentation (such as the meaning of individual freedom) that might change the way we see the technologies. The badness of death and aging are metaphysical concepts that are not very well adapted to a more practical context; they are not sufficient tools for dealing with the practical ethical challenges that we face when discussing considerable life extension technologies.