SAGE KE Bulletin Board

Discussion Introduction: Ethics and motivation for aging cure

24 September 2001

SAGE KE Editors

Some gerontologists aim to find a "solution" for the "problem" of aging, while others claim they simply want to understand the phenomenon, free of any practical goal. We are often asked why we are pursuing this line of research; what good will come out of controlling or even reversing aging? This question forces the community of "aging" researchers to face an ethical dimension that's somewhat unique in biomedical research. If we are all contributing to an eventual "cure" for aging--which we probably are, even if that's not our goal--how many of us question whether that would bring any real advantage in social terms?

Why are we studying aging? Is it just out of curiosity? Or because of the thrill of working in a sexy field, without any deeper thoughts? Is it because we would like to relieve older people from the suffering caused by osteoporosis, Alzheimer's disease and other age-related disorders? Or do we simply believe we would be happier in a society where everyone would still be youthful and healthy in their nineties (at least those who would be able to afford the aging pill)?

-Introduction written by Nuno Arantes-Oliveira

See also "Life Extension--Our Salvation or Our Ruin?" in SAGE KE News Synthesis.

Science of Aging Knowledge Environment. ISSN 1539-6150