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The Deathist Viewpoint

From EconLog: "Ron Bailey's Liberation Biology quoted Frank Fukuyama: 'Life extension seems to me a perfect example of something that is a negative externality, meaning that it is individually rational and desirable for any given individual, but it has costs for society that can be negative.' I couldn't believe my eyes. Did Frank Fukuyama actually mean that when a person has another year of healthy life, the net effect on other people is negative? If so, why do people cry at funerals, instead of celebrating? Fukuyama's statement was so hateful and twisted that I wondered if he was being quoted out of context. So I dug up the full paragraph ... The extra words definitely make Fukuyama's position more confusing, but they take away none of the horror. The extra words definitely make Fukuyama's position more confusing, but they take away none of the horror. You'd think that a 'perfect example' of a negative externality would be easy to explain and hard to dispute - like air pollution. But to make his case, Fukuyama has to appeal to the controversial notion of group selection: Human beings evolved to die because it's adaptive for society. His specific mechanism - death stops elders from impeding progress - would be controversial even for believers in group selection. After all, during our evolutionary history, there was almost no progress to impede! ... On purely pragmatic grounds, then, Fukuyama's argument is about as feeble as 'Life extension is bad for morticians.'"

Link: http://econlog.econlib.org/archives/2010/02/fukuyamas.html

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