IEET > Vision > Fellows > Russell Blackford > HealthLongevity > Technoprogressivism > Innovation
Why Singer is Wrong About Radical Life Extension

Peter Singer has argued that we should not proceed with a hypothetical life-extension drug, based on a scenario in which developing the drug would fail to achieve the greatest sum of happiness over time. However, this is the wrong test.

Moral Pluralism versus the Total View

If we ask, more simply, which policy would be more benevolent, we reach a different conclusion from Singer’s: even given his (admittedly questionable) scenario, development of the drug should go ahead. Singer’s rigorous utilitarian position pushes him in the direction of an implausible “total view” utilitarianism when it encounters the problems presented by certain thought experiments. A more pluralistic account of the nature of morality promises to solve these problems, and in this case it reaches a benevolent recommendation on life-extension technology.

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Russell Blackford Ph.D. is a fellow of the IEET, an attorney, science fiction author and critic, philosopher, and public intellectual. Dr. Blackford serves as editor-in-chief of the IEET's Journal of Evolution and Technology. He lives in Newcastle, Australia, where he is a Conjoint Lecturer in the School of Humanities and Social Science at the University of Newcastle.


This issue is interesting, but what you posted amounts only to a “teaser” of the real article which requires a subscription on another site. You didn’t expand your abstract into enough detail to warrant a blog posting with actual content. It would be nice to know what your “pluralistic account of the nature of morality” is in more detail.

This is, indeed, just a teaser. It’s the actual abstract, as printed in JME.

I’ll probably blog in more detail about this issue, but bear in mind that the full argument is in the 7000-word article and that anything less will either not do the argument justice or will take almost as much effort as writing another article. So whatever I write will (a) have to be a compromise and (b) not be something I can just dash off.

Under my current circumstances (I’ve just moved interstate and all my books etc.—dozens of boxes—just arrived yesterday), it may take awhile before I can focus on this. Please bear with me.

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