Do We Need Death?

Back to Cato Unbound we go, for Ronald Bailey's contribution to the present debate. "Schaub offers no data nor even a plausible line of reasoning that longer healthy lives will result in 'social sclerosis.' In fact, the available evidence cuts the other way. Social and technological innovation has been most rapid in those societies with the highest average life expectancies. Yale University economist William Nordhaus estimates that the huge increase in average life expectancy in the United States, from forty-seven years in 1900 to seventy-seven years today, has been responsible for about 40 percent of the increase in our standard of living. ... the highest expression of human nature and dignity is to strive to overcome the limitations imposed on us by our genes, our evolution and our environment. Future generations will look back at the beginning of the 21st century with astonishment that some well-meaning and intelligent people actually wanted to stop biomedical research just to protect their cramped and limited vision of human nature. Our descendants will look back, I predict, and thank us for making their world of longer, healthier lives possible." Just so. Do we need death? "No. Next question."



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