From practicalethics: "One of the most important ideas in public health is that we can never really save lives: we just extend them. If a doctor 'saves the life' of a 60 year old patient who later dies at 90 years of age, then she hasn't actually stopped the patient dying, but has extended the patient's life by 30 years. ... People typically view [scientific] life extension projects very differently to how they view efforts to cure diseases, such as cancer. They see the former as interesting and somewhat exciting, whereas they see the latter as a moral imperative which deserves urgent government funding. These views are not consistent. All medicine is fundamentally about extending our lives and allowing us to be as healthy as possible while we live. Fighting aging pursues these objectives just as much as fighting a particular disease. If we could find some way of slowing aging so as to extend the human life span by 30% it would produce more benefit than curing any single disease. There is thus a moral imperative to significantly increase research into life extension." The field of "ethics", as usual, seems to have much to do with how to spend other people's money - but the points on the role of medicine stand whether or not we're discussing disposition of tax dollars.