Monday, August 3, 2015

Quote of the week

Steven Pinker on bioethics:
Biomedical research, then, promises vast increases in life, health, and flourishing. Just imagine how much happier you would be if a prematurely deceased loved one were alive, or a debilitated one were vigorous — and multiply that good by several billion, in perpetuity. Given this potential bonanza, the primary moral goal for today’s bioethics can be summarized in a single sentence. 
Get out of the way.
I encourage this cultural reframing of aging and age-related disease as terrible amoral blights upon society, and cheer Pinker's mild critique of bioethics. Increasing the availability of risky experimental treatments seems like a no-brainer to me, given that the worst-case scenario with most treatments is equivalent to the worst-case scenario without treatment - namely death. Although the downside risks are the same, the upside risks are not: experimental treatments sometimes work, and always add to the pool of knowledge that pushes medical technology forward.

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