The transhumanist prospect: Developing technology to extend the human lifespan

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Transhumanists advocate humankind’s transcendence of biological barriers to well-being. To achieve this they propose extensive development and use of enhancement technologies to improve the flawed human condition. A central goal of transhumanism, which I will refer to as the ‘transhumanist prospect’, is radical enhancement of human lifespans and control over the aging process. In this primarily descriptive contribution, I outline the transhumanist prospect and discuss philosophical and ethical debates about the transhumanist stance on aging. In doing so, I point to controversial premises in transhumanist thinking and provide what I regard as useful distinctions. In particular, I distinguish between different understandings of transhumanism and suggest being in favour of enhancement is not equivalent to being a transhumanist. Thereafter, I characterise three transhumanist ends that converge with respect to aging: freedom and self-control, making individuals better than well, and surmounting the limitations of human nature. Transhumanists advocate intervening in or escaping the aging process, and I differentiate between five modes whereby this may be achieved. Finally, I examine several types of ethical objections related to the transhumanist prospect.
Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationThe Palgrave Handbook of the Philosophy of Aging
Publication statusPublished - 2017
Externally publishedYes


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