Agency, life extension, and the meaning of life

The Monist 93 (1):38-56 (2010)
Abstract
Contemporary philosophers and bioethicists argue that life extension is bad for the individual. According to the agency objection to life extension, being constrained as an agent adds to the meaningfulness of human life. Life extension removes constraints, and thus it deprives life of meaning. In the paper, I concede that constrained agency contributes to the meaningfulness of human life, but reject the agency objection to life extension in its current form. Even in an extended life, decision-making remains constrained, and many obstacles to the fulfilment of an agent’s goals are preserved. Agents with longer lives are also presented with new challenges: for instance, it might be harder for them to avoid chronic boredom, and sustain their motivation to act in the pursuit of their goals. Although objections from agency and boredom are often used in combination to support the view that a much longer life is likely to bring misery or become meaningless, I argue that the acceptance of the boredom objection undermines the persuasiveness of the agency objection.
Keywords meaning  mortality  agency
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DOI 10.5840/monist20109313
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