Scientists try to answer: Should people live longer?

Edmonton (Alberta, Canada) Journal reports that dozens of academics are gathering at the University of Alberta for a two-day aging symposium to discuss whether we can significantly extend lifespans and whether we should.

“If we all live to be 150, the hospitals would all be full and everyone would still say it certainly went by fast,” says Daniel Callahan, from the Hastings Center, a bioethics research institute in Garrison, N.Y. “The only case for extending lifespans is that some people want it and that doesn’t seem to be good enough.”

At the symposium, Callahan will debate the ethics of “life extension” — he has long attacked as “utopian” the arguments of those who say that science will find ways to keep elderly populations healthy. More importantly, he says, an older population will do nothing to solve today’s social ills and could cause more problems.

“I don’t see it making any contributions at all to society beyond satisfying the wish of some individuals to live a long life. It’s often said that the elderly have a wisdom to contribute. Well, I’m 76 and I don’t notice that among people my age that we have any special wisdom,” he says.

For proponents of life extension, the idea of keeping people alive without keeping them healthy is irresponsible. However, they think funding research that might help people live longer, healthier lives is vital to stave off the rising costs associated with caring for aging populations. Many also believe that extending lifespans is in line with society’s core values.

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One Response to “Scientists try to answer: Should people live longer?”

  1. Dr. Leonid Gavrilov, Ph.D. Says:

    It was great to see the video records of this Symposium.
    I have posted my reflections on these records at:
    http://longevity-science.blogspot.com/2007/04/edmonton-aging-symposium.html

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