Facing immortality

Int J Appl Philos. 2005 Spring;19(1):85-104. doi: 10.5840/ijap20051911.


This study is primarily a call to philosophers to attend the concerns raised by the increasing possibility of indefinitely extended human life. While these concerns are largely moral and socio-political, questions arising from this possibility are seen to involve other philosophical areas, including epistemology. Starting with the age-old desire for extended, enjoyable life, possible strategies for realizing such life are considered. Such realization is shown to conflict with the desire for children. Various reasons for choice between the alternatives of indefinitely extended life and what is currently understood to be a normal life, including the possibility of offspring, are examined. Competing social visions are sketched for the purpose of resolving this dilemma. It is argued that humanity's likely choice from among the competing social sketches favors the decision for extended life against that for limited lifespan with the possibility of children. Assuming that the extended life will be a life of learning leads to epistemological considerations regarding what is to be learned.

MeSH terms

  • Biomedical Enhancement / ethics*
  • Humans
  • Knowledge
  • Life Expectancy*
  • Longevity / ethics*
  • Philosophy*
  • Social Change