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Workshop 2009

 
THE SOUL OF BIOETHICS | Print |

THE SOUL OF BIOETHICS

(Apr. 10, 2008)

From the International Longevity Center-USA

Edited by H.R. Moody

- Ethics of Life Extension

- Paternalism: Does It Ever Go Away?

- Are Living Wills Overhyped?

- Vision and Voice

- Human Values in Aging

- Web Sites to See

- Books of Interest

- To Die with Life

ETHICS OF LIFE EXTENSION

Remember Mel Brooks 2,000 year old man? Aubrey de Gray thinks such a very long lifespan be possible. Read "The Invincible Man: Aubrey de Grey, 44 Going on 1,000, Wants Out of Old Age" at:

http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2007/10/30/AR2007103002222.html?hpid=sec-health

These prospects for life extension do raise serious questions:

-Do gerontologists have a moral obligation to speak candidly about the prospects of life-extension, and to offer concrete predictions about when this might be achieved, so as to promote public acceptance of this work and hasten the day when lives will be saved through life-extension?

-If we cannot make life-extension available to everyone, is it unjust to make it available only to some?

-Is there moral value in a natural order based on mortality and on the acceptance of death, and if so, should we refrain from developing life-extension?

-Is life-extension an unavoidable by-product of eliminating the debilitating conditions of old age? Does it command the moral priority of curing diseases generally or is it morally distinct from that project?

These are just a few of the questions posed in "The Prolongevists Speak Up," the Life-Extension Ethics Session at the 10th Annual Congress of the International Association of Biomedical Gerontology. For details visit:

http://www.bioethics.net/journal/j_articles.php?aid=662

See also " 'To Live is Gain'- Life Extension in the 21st Century" at:

http://www.thecbc.org/redesigned/research_display.php?id=104

PATERNALISM: DOES IT EVER GO AWAY?

"If you’re ageing, and who isn't, you had better get used to the idea that those helplessly dependent children you once shielded from disturbing information and protected from harm are now getting ready to return the favour." From Arthur Schafer, "Aunt Sophie’s Choice: The Perils of Paternalism." For full text, visit:

http://www.umanitoba.ca/centres/ethics/articles/article3.html

See also "The Cost of Autonomy, the Price of Paternalism" at:

http://www.haworthpress.com/store/E-Text/View_EText.asp?sid=MWP8C0FU7NR29GQGUL2Q10UBTD3RB5A4&a=3&s=J083&v=29&i=2%2F3&fn=J083V29N02_07

Thinking about paternalism and aging raises other interesting questions. For example, what about the idea of "binding" our future decisions based on a "paternalistic" attitude toward our future self-something like what Ulysses did by tying himself to the mast so he could hear the Sirens? For thoughts on that subject of future self paternalism, see:

http://www.overcomingbias.com/2007/04/more_on_future_.html

The contemporary locus classicus for this discussion is found in ULYSSES UNBOUND: Studies in Rationality, Precommitment, and Constraints, by Jon Elster (Cambridge Univ. Press, 2000).

ARE LIVING WILLS OVERHYPED?

Living wills, one variety of advanced directives, "are overhyped," said K. Eric de Jong, Director of Geriatrics at Washington Hospital Center. He spoke at a recent forum on the complexity of end-of-life decisions, a meeting held at the Woodrow Wilson Center for International Scholars in Washington, DC.

What's the problem, we may wonder? Advance Directives are based on a flawed assumption that people acually think ahead of time about end of life care, de Jong said. He noted that instructions people give rarely anticipate the specifics of clinical reality. People often change their minds towards the end, he explained, and then find that they are "willing to go through a lot more to avoid dying." Clinicians need more humility in their judgments about prognosis, he added, noting that doctors are also "notoriously bad" at predicting outcomes.

For more on this subject, see "10 Legal Myths about Advance Medical Directives" at:

http://www.abanet.org/aging/publications/docs/10legalmythsarticle.pdf

VISION AND VOICE

"Vision and Voice: Faithful Citizens and Health Care" is a new adult education resource, now available for faith communities wanting to engage in our nation's dialogue about health care reform. The program was developed by Center for Clinical Bioethics at Georgetown University Medical Center. It is available for free on the web at:

http://www.visionandvoice.org/

HUMAN VALUES IN AGING

A monthly e-newsletter, "Human Values in Aging," edited by H.R. Moody, covers lifelong learning, spirituality, later life creativity, and related topics. For a sample copy or no cost subscription, send a message to: This e-mail address is being protected from spam bots, you need JavaScript enabled to view it

WEB SITES TO SEE

PROCESS THOUGHT. Process philosophy and theology was originally inspired by A.N. Whitehead. For applications to ethics read: "Process Thought, Health, Aging, Medicine, and Bio-Ethics" at:

http://www.ctr4process.org/publications/Biblio/Thematic/Health%20and%20Aging.html

END OF LIFE. Don't forget that comfort counts. For more on this point read "End of Life: Helping With Comfort and Care" at:

http://www.nia.nih.gov/HealthInformation/Publications/endoflife

ELDER CARE. For ethical challenges related to elder care visit:

http://www.globalaging.org/elderrights/us/2007/ethical.pdf

BOOKS OF INTEREST

THE SPIRITUAL JOURNEY OF FAMILY CAREGIVING, by Sheryl Karas (Healing Communications Press, 2008). For details, see:

http://www.lulu.com/content/1767517

TOM KITWOOD ON DEMENTIA: A Reader and Critical Commentary, by Clive (Baldwin and Andrea Capstick). For details, visit:

http://www.mcgraw-hill.co.uk/ecat/openup07/baldwin

NARRATIVE MEDICINE: Honoring the Stories of Illness, by Rita Charon (Oxford Univ. Press, 2008).

"From the middle of life onward, only he remains vitally alive who is ready to die with life." -Jung

This electronic newsletter, edited by Harry (Rick) Moody, is published by the International Longevity Center-USA (60 E. 86 Street, NY, NY) and co-sponsored by the Office of Academic Affairs at AARP. To submit items of interest or request subscription changes, contact This e-mail address is being protected from spam bots, you need JavaScript enabled to view it

For additional information, visit http://www.hrmoody.com and http://www.ilcusa.org

(c) Copyright 2008; all rights reserved…Used by Permission

 
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