The life-extension project: A sociological critique

Dumas, Alex; Turner, Bryan S.
February 2007
Health Sociology Review;Feb2007, Vol. 16 Issue 1, p5
Academic Journal
In this article we explore and critically assess recent developments in bio-gerontology which promise a delaying of the ageing process in human beings through some form of significant 'life-extension'. Various arguments for prolonging the human life span are being discussed intensely in the biomedical sciences: sociology has yet to make a tangible contribution to these debates. Although significant modifications to the human lifespan remain a futuristic goal, we argue that the life-extension project has immediate repercussions for contemporary society. Drawing on the available literature in the humanities and the social sciences, we discuss the value of the life-extension project and its social justice, human rights and ethical implications. For example, we consider, assuming the presence of economic scarcity, various aspects of increasing social inequality which would arise from any significant growth in life expectancy. We argue that this form of biomedical research has potentially far greater negative consequences for the status of humans than has been previously recognised, and conclude with a consideration of the religious and ethical implications of 'prolongevity'.


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