Ageing is a wonderful life experience, a deep and transcendent change, a transformation that happens with our many experiences over time. With ageing our body weakens and becomes powerless. Scientists have always considered ageing as a ‘decaying disease’ that they want to find a ‘cure’ for. Scientists found that using Hyperbaric Oxygen Therapy (HBOT), which has also been used to treat several illnesses, can reverse ageing. This oxygen therapy aims to elongate telomeres, sequences of DNA, which are responsible for cell division thus making cells live longer. So, should we accept life extension? Or is the march of time inevitable? This article will discuss the ethics with reverse ageing and how it would affect us.
Grow younger. Live longer
Studies have proved that the number of deaths caused by different diseases increase significantly as we age. New therapy techniques that aim to reverse ageing, like HBOT, will decrease the ageing effect of cells and organs which will result in older people becoming healthier and reduce the risk of death from diseases. Reverse ageing can help extend people’s lives and keep loved ones alive for more time. Also, imagine great minds like Elon musk, Bill Gates and many others living for a longer time and being able to innovate and lead the world to a better future. This argument could be ethically approved by the utilitarianism theory as it supports actions that produce happiness for the greatest number of people.
In some countries like Japan and Italy, more than 20 per cent of the population are above 65 years old which leads to an overall lower productivity of their labour force. So, how can reverse ageing help fight this issue? Using reverse ageing methods, a higher percentage of people will be capable and more willing to work at an older age utilising their precious experience which in return will develop the country’s economy further. Duty ethics theory favours this argument as people increase their productivity and giving back to their country as much as possible before retirement.
Moreover, the noticeable increase in the average human’s life span in the past years has caused the arousal of several economic issues. These issues have been clear in the richest countries where the medical advancements have helped increase the sector of the population of people between 60-90, in which people consume the most and produce the least. However, the application of reverse ageing would lead to avoiding many of the ageing-related diseases making more people able to work more productively for longer years. Consequently, the gap in “Consumption: Production” ratio in the population’s sector between 60-90 would be significantly minimized, the population’s gross domestic product (GDP) would increase and the governments’ support costs for elderly care would be reduced.
Furthermore, reverse ageing could be also seen to have several benefits on the social aspect. These benefits can be mainly signified in the reduction of the amount of care and support required for elderly people. Elderly people would not only require less care, but they would also be able to provide the needed support and care for those who need it, which would strongly enhance the social relations in the community. The economic and social arguments can be approved to support care ethics as they act on sustaining healthy and strong relationships by stimulating the well-being of the individuals. This can be seen to agree with the care ethics theories, which emphasize the moral importance of relationships and the duties of care between individuals.
Not the right time
Yet, as too often happens, the solution of one problem spawns others. Although reverse ageing seems a goal to be pursued, it still has troubling features. If reverse ageing reduces the risk of dying from an ageing-related disease, then what would we die of? The answer would still be a range of ageing-related diseases similar to those of untreated people. This has been shown and proved in the experiments done on mice. So, what is the benefit? Reverse ageing would only delay the disease for a while but sooner or later the day will come. Sadly, the probability of us dying from a severe pathology is 100%, and this can never change.
Also, could any authority ever force others to abandon the treatment and suffer from avoidable age-related disease? Surely not, but this brings us nicely to our next point, the cost of treatment. This therapy is considered inexpensive compared to more intrusive pharmaceutical treatments but at the same time it is relatively expensive to less fortunate, poor people. HBOT requires patients to spend hours in a pressurized chamber which may turn away patients. In addition, exercise and healthy eating are some natural alternatives that are proved to keep you healthy and live longer according to several research.
Kantian theory proposes that a person is good or bad depending on the motivation of their actions and not the goodness of the consequences of those actions. Scientists should also think about criminals, politicians, and many others. The motivation behind these people from doing the therapy would be to live longer to spread crimes, hate and sometimes wars. In politics, many elected officials have term limits that prevent them from amassing too much power. But what about federal judges, who are appointed for life? Judges would not retire early just for political gain, where they wait for a president who is of their same political party, so that president can appoint someone who reflects their exact views. Also, what if federal judges are biased? Does it mean that virtue ethics will not be in place? It is concerning as it will lead to problems related to virtue ethics where justice, prudence, respecting citizen rights, and following rule of law and constitutional principles are not obeyed.
Finally, reverse ageing will lead to population explosion which will cause major global extinction as human occupy, degrade, pollute and destroy wildlife habitats. It has been proven that most of the world’s land has already been modified by humans, with harmful effect on biodiversity. Fresh water species populations declined by more than 80% between 1970 and 2012, mostly due to habitat loss from dams and water abstraction to meet human’s needs. We must keep in mind that we share our planet with a huge number of different organisms, and it is essential to be respectful of your environment and understand the ethics of wildlife.
We are for reverse ageing.