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An Ethical Perspective on Nanotechnology, Health and Longevity

J. Weckert and J. Moor
Charles Sturt University, AU

Keywords:
ethics, health, longevity, suffering, fairness

Abstract:
The idea that nanotechnology may be able to aid human health is not new, and whatever we make of some of the more dramatic claims, there is now a considerable literature describing ways that nanotechnology will contribute to human health and perhaps to human life spans.
 
Barring harmful side-effects, these developments all seem to be unmitigated goods, but some interesting questions are worthy of examination to understand some of the underlying ethical questions in order to see if there are genuine worries, and if there are, what will be the appropriate responses. Some of these questions concern the ability of humans to cope with the required level of change that longer life spans would entail, the population problem, and most importantly, “the enormous power that humans will have if we ever learn how to tamper with the aging process or to extend our longevity” (Hayflick). Other questions concern the quality versus quantity of life and possible impacts on individuals and communities, issues of fairness of the distribution of the health and longevity benefits, and some arguments regarding life and death that seem to challenge the prevailing view that increased longevity is obviously desirable.

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