Life Extension and Mental Ageing

Philosophical Papers 41 (3):455-477 (2012)

Abstract

Abstract Objections to life extension often focus on its effects for individual well-being. Prominent amongst these concerns is the possibility that life extending technologies will extend lifespan without preventing the ageing of the mind. Writers on the subject express the fear that life extending drugs will keep us physically youthful whilst our minds decay, succumbing to dementia, boredom, and loneliness. Generally these fears remain speculative, in part due to the absence of genuine life extending technologies. In this paper, however, I examine the implications of an existing life extension technology. Caloric restriction (CR) and drugs that mimic its effects, such as rapamycin, metformin and resveratrol have been shown to increase average and maximum lifespan in a wide variety of organisms, and seem likely to do so in humans. Moreover, some CR mimetic drugs (CRMs) are already widely used. This means that they present a pressing test case for fears about mental ageing in an extended life. Misgivings about mental ageing can be divided into biomedical factors such as the likelihood of brain ageing, and psychological factors such as loss of meaning and boredom. I argue that studies of CR suggest that brain ageing will be beneficially slowed. However, it is less clear that deleterious aspects of psychological ageing can be similarly retarded. I argue that this reduces the desirability of life extension unless major social changes can be made

Download options

PhilArchive



    Upload a copy of this work     Papers currently archived: 72,694

External links

Setup an account with your affiliations in order to access resources via your University's proxy server

Through your library

Analytics

Added to PP
2012-11-09

Downloads
65 (#179,848)

6 months
2 (#259,476)

Historical graph of downloads
How can I increase my downloads?

Author's Profile

Christopher Wareham
University of Witwatersrand

References found in this work

Problems of the Self.Bernard A. O. Williams - 1973 - Cambridge University Press.
Is Living Longer Living Better?Larry S. Temkin - 2008 - Journal of Applied Philosophy 25 (3):193-210.
Is the Immortal Life Worth Living?J. Jeremy Wisnewski - 2005 - International Journal for Philosophy of Religion 58 (1):27 - 36.

View all 10 references / Add more references

Citations of this work

Between Hoping to Die and Longing to Live Longer.Christopher S. Wareham - 2021 - History and Philosophy of the Life Sciences 43 (2):1-20.
Genome Editing for Longer Lives: The Problem of Loneliness.C. S. Wareham - 2020 - Journal of Bioethical Inquiry 17 (2):309-314.
Substantial Life Extension and the Fair Distribution of Healthspans.Christopher S. Wareham - 2016 - Journal of Medicine and Philosophy 41 (5):521-539.
Slowed Ageing, Welfare, and Population Problems.Christopher Wareham - 2015 - Theoretical Medicine and Bioethics 36 (5):321-340.

Add more citations

Similar books and articles

Life-Extension and the Malthusian Objection.John K. Davis - 2005 - Journal of Medicine and Philosophy 30 (1):27 – 44.
The Question of Ageing.John Cottingham - 2012 - Philosophical Papers 41 (3):371-396.
Life Extension Research: Health, Illness, and Death.Leigh Turner - 2004 - Health Care Analysis 12 (2):117-129.
Ageing and Human Nature.Michael Bavidge - 2005 - In Julian Hughes, Stephen Louw & Steven R. Sabat (eds.), Dementia: Mind, Meaning, and the Person. Oxford University Press.
Five Tests for What Makes a Life Worth Living.Aaron Smuts - 2013 - Journal of Value Inquiry 47 (4):1-21.
Bioethics: An Introduction.Marianne Talbot - 2012 - Cambridge University Press.
Life and Mind.Margaret A. Boden - 2009 - Minds and Machines 19 (4):453-463.