Identity, prudential concern, and extended lives

Bioethics. 2002 Jun;16(3):266-83. doi: 10.1111/1467-8519.00285.


Recent advances in human genetics suggest that it may become possible to genetically manipulate telomerase and embryonic stem cells to alter the mechanisms of aging and extend the human life span. But a life span significantly longer than the present norm would be undesirable because it would severely weaken the connections between past- and future-oriented mental states and turn the psychological grounds for personal identity and prudential concern for our future selves. In addition, the collective effects of longer lives might lower the quality of life for all people. These two problems provide reasons against genetic manipulation of cells to alter the length of the human life span.

MeSH terms

  • Aging*
  • Attitude to Death
  • Ethical Analysis*
  • Genetic Enhancement*
  • Humans
  • Life
  • Longevity*
  • Mind-Body Relations, Metaphysical*
  • Morbidity
  • Personhood
  • Public Policy
  • Quality of Life
  • Social Change
  • Stem Cells