J. Harris

This paper 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 which 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. As and when the numerical balance of these parallel populations seems set to shift dramatically towards significant and problematic numbers of immortals some hard decisions will have to be taken. Eventually if justice can be done, and if we resolve the issue of an appropriate balance between existing and new generations we will have also seen the emergence of a replacement species and will have passed from a world of mortals to, what would it be -- demi-gods?

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