Ethics: Examining The Limits of Life

A medical philosopher argues that longer is not always better

Americans have an "insatiable appetite for a longer life," complains Daniel Callahan, 57. They should be "creatively and honorably accepting aging and death, not struggling to overcome them." Medicine, Callahan chides, ought to "give up its relentless drive to extend the life of the aged," who in any event are often "being saved from death for chronic illness, with Alzheimer's as a tragic example." It is time to honor a "natural life-span" that normally winds down in the late 70s to mid-80s, he says. "How many years do we need to have a reasonably decent life, to raise a family, to...

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