Biogerontology, "Anti-Aging Medicine," and the Challenges of Human Enhancement.

By The Hastings Center Report

  • Release Date: 2003-07-01
  • Genre: Life Sciences
  • Size: 196.69 KB

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Slowing the aging process would be one of the most dramatic and momentous ways of enhancing human beings. It is also one that mainstream science is on the brink of pursuing. The state of the science, together with its possible impact, make it an important example for how to think about research into all enhancement technologies. Central to many discussions of limits of biotechnology and biomedical research is the notorious concept of "enhancement." The concept is central because it flags a significant set of moral concerns that are raised by the use of biomedicine to attempt to improve upon human form and function. (1) The concept is notorious because it is so hard to pin down for the purposes of making biotechnology policy. (2) The literature on the ethics of enhancement repeatedly emphasizes that, under usual interpretations of the concept of enhancement, our research regulatory bodies are unlikely ever to see examples of research on it. Rather, most interventions that might be used for the enhancement of the healthy will be developed under the aegis of perfectly legitimate medical concerns to treat and prevent traditionally defined disease, disability, and suffering in the sick. If they are understood as part of traditional