Comments on Teaching an Ethical View of Life Extension

Some comments from a social studies professor with an interest in engineered human longevity:

This year I devote two whole classes to aging and the ethics of life extension. Last week was our first class on the topic and I asked my students, who are all graduate level students in the humanities and social sciences, how many of them had taken a course where aging was either the focus, or even just a topic covered in, the course. Not a single hand went up! This simply reinforced my conviction that it is absolutely essential to teach the course I am teaching, and to dedicate two weeks to aging and the ethics of life extension. I hope it helps to fill what is an unfortunate gap in the education our students receive.

In my opinion, the aging of the world's populations is the most interesting and important development of the 21st century. And yet the education our students (many of whom will go on to be teachers, professors, politicians, work in public policy, law, medicine, etc.) receive is one that is completely blind to this reality. This neglect is itself an oddity worthy of serious reflection. Why do so many scholars in the humanities and social sciences appear to have "aging blinders" on? I think the answer to this question is complex, and many distinct cultural and institutional factors account for this neglect. I will write a longer post about this in a few weeks. I believe that one of the main reasons for this neglect is that scholars ignore the ultimate causation of morbidity, mortality and behaviour.

While the proximate causation of mortality (such as poverty and war) is on the radar of many in the humanities and social sciences, they do not adopt as diverse an explanatory toolbox as they ought to. Once you add an evolutionary perspective into the mix, the questions, topics and debates to be discussed and pondered are wondrous and pressing. And doing this has profoundly altered the topics I work on, and the manner in which I approach them, in both ethics and political theory.



Sorry, this does not apply to this article, but rather to an arcticle I just read about Bill Gates. As most people know, he is worth about 65 Billion dollars.

Finally, what was left on his bucket list, Gates had a clear answer:
"Don't die."

It seems to me, that SENS and other legit longevity ought to pursue him and other multi-millonaires. I realize Peter Thial is active in the endeavor, but getting a few more wealthy people would really be helpful. Just my two cents worth.

Posted by: Robert Church at February 13th, 2013 7:07 PM

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