Immortal Ethics

Authors

  • JOHN HARRIS

    Corresponding author
    1. Institute of Medicine, Law and Bioethics, School of Law, University of Manchester, Manchester M13 9PL, United Kingdom
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Address for correspondence: John Harris, Institute of Medicine, Law and Bioethics, School of Law, Williamson Building, University of Manchester, Oxford Road, Manchester M13 9P, United Kingdom. Voice: +44-161-275-3473; fax: +44-161-275-7704. john.m.harris@man.ac.uk

Abstract

Abstract: This article draws on ideas published in my “Intimations of Immortality” essay in Science (Vol. 288, No. 5463, p. 59, April 7, 2000) and my “Intimations of Immortality—The Ethics and Justice of Life Extending Therapies” in editor Michael Freeman's Current Legal Problems (Oxford University Press 2002: 65-97). This article outlines the ethical issues involved in life-extending therapies. The arguments against life extension are examined and found wanting. The consequences of life extension are explored and found challenging but not sufficiently daunting to warrant regulation or control. In short, there is no doubt that immortality would be a mixed blessing, but we should be slow to reject cures for terrible diseases that may be an inextricable part of life-extending procedures even if the price we have to pay for those cures is increasing life expectancy and even creating immortals. Better surely to accompany the scientific race to achieve immortality with commensurate work in ethics and social policy to ensure that we know how to cope with the transition to parallel populations of mortals and immortals as envisaged in mythology.

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