Agency, life extension, and the meaning of life

The Monist 93 (1):38-56 (2010)
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
Categories (categorize this paper)
DOI 10.5840/monist20109313
 Save to my reading list
Follow the author(s)
Edit this record
My bibliography
Export citation
Find it on Scholar
Mark as duplicate
Request removal from index
Revision history
Download options
Our Archive

Upload a copy of this paper     Check publisher's policy     Papers currently archived: 30,300
External links

Setup an account with your affiliations in order to access resources via your University's proxy server
Configure custom proxy (use this if your affiliation does not provide a proxy)
Through your library
References found in this work BETA

No references found.

Add more references

Citations of this work BETA
The Relative Importance of Undesirable Truths.Lisa Bortolotti - 2013 - Medicine, Health Care and Philosophy 16 (4):683-690.

Add more citations

Similar books and articles
Reflecting on the Meaning of Life.Nicole Note - 2009 - Philosophy in the Contemporary World 16 (2):22-31.
The Unity and Disunity of Agency.Jeanette Kennett & Steve Matthews - 2003 - Philosophy, Psychiatry, and Psychology 10 (4):308-312.
Life-Extension and the Malthusian Objection.John K. Davis - 2005 - Journal of Medicine and Philosophy 30 (1):27 – 44.
On Luck, Responsibility and the Meaning of Life.Berit Brogaard & Barry Smith - 2005 - Philosophical Papers 34 (3):443-458.
Added to PP index

Total downloads
205 ( #20,582 of 2,193,216 )

Recent downloads (6 months)
6 ( #33,576 of 2,193,216 )

How can I increase my downloads?

Monthly downloads
My notes
Sign in to use this feature