Tuesday, February 17, 2009

Equality and Aging Paper Now Online

My paper "Equality and the Duty to Retard Human Ageing" is now available on the "Early View" section of the journal Bioethics.

This paper is my latest in a series of papers (see this, this, this, this and this) that aspire to get us to seriously address the most pressing issue facing the health prospects of humans this century-- the biological vulnerabilities inherent in the current rate of human aging. Many of the arguments made in these published papers are first expressed here at "In Search of Enlightenment". This blog serves as a useful place for me to (1) get my ideas written down and (2) ensure they are sufficiently reflective and defensible before putting them out in the "public arena" of the blogosphere.

The great thing about a blog is that one can potentially reach a much larger and more diverse audience than one can with an academic scholarly publication. And, drawing inspiration again from Kant, we should aspire to use what he calls the "public use of reason".

The public use of reason, in contrast to the private use, is, for Kant, defined in terms of the audience (i.e. the world at large) whom an act of communication may reach. By engaging in an interdisciplinary debate about aging research I have tried to exercise the public use of reason. While my new paper in Bioethics addresses a specific philosophical debate, this contribution and this one , for example, are attempts to engage a broader audience and utilize different tools to do this. And this blog itself is perhaps the best venue I have for exercising the public use of reason.

My future contributions to advocating for aging research will be much more in the spirit of invoking the public use of reason. This is imperative for a topic like aging given (a) where the science is, (b) how few the advocates of this science, and (c) the enormous benefits this science could bring to the health and economic prospects of those living in both the developed and developing world.

Here is the abstract from my Bioethics paper:

Where does the aspiration to retard human ageing fit in the 'big picture' of medical necessities and the requirements of just healthcare? Is there a duty to retard human ageing? And if so, how much should we invest in the basic science that studies the biology of ageing and could lead to interventions that modify the biological processes of human ageing? I consider two prominent accounts of equality and just healthcare – Norman Daniels's application of the principle of fair equality of opportunity and Ronald Dworkin's account of equality of resources – and conclude that, once suitably amended and revised, both actually support the conclusion that anti-ageing research is important and could lead to interventions that ought to be considered 'medical necessities'.

Tomorrow I will be giving a talk entitled "Slowing Human Aging: Ethical and Social Issues" to the Probus Club of Kingston.