May 14, 2010

Yes, a long life is worth it

Oxford Institute of AgeingOn Practical Ethics in the News I argue that life extension is worth it.

It is quite surprising how many people are taken in with grand pronouncements that pursuing life extension will lead to bad consequences X, Y and Z that have the stringency of a wet salad. We have some pretty strong reasons to think it would be good (given that being alive, healthy and doing things is something we tend to value highly). There will obviously be plenty of good and bad consequences but past experiences with longer lives on a society-wide basis have been fairly good. Most suggested bad consequences can be handled socially or are things we might discover are much less bad than what we avoid.

If the price of longevity is having to get fewer children, it might be worth taking for some people but not others. Fertility in humans seems to be amazingly flexible and influencable by social and economic factors. Rather than doing something as crude as banning immortals from having children (or people who have had children from taking life extension treatments), one could for example have a tax that makes it unfavourable to both extend life and having children.

Posted by Anders3 at May 14, 2010 07:03 PM