Ageing, Anti-ageing, and Anti-anti-ageing: Who are the Progressives in the Debate on the Future of Human Biological Ageing?

Abstract

This paper provides both an overview of and a personal perspective on the field of ‘anti-ageing’. In the late 20th century, progress in the science of ageing re-invigorated activity designed to avoid biological ageing. For some the objective was to abolish the need to die of old age. This anti-ageing movement includes a diverse range of people: hard scientists working in well-funded and established university laboratories, slick corporate-marketing executives and new-age entrepreneurs selling herbal elixirs. The movement has attracted anti-anti-ageing critical comment from three sources: moral critique located in philosophy and religion, scepticism from established scientists in the field of biology and gerontology, and challenge from critical social gerontology. Anti-ageing activists have labelled their critics as ‘conservative’ for opposing the inevitable progress of science. The paper argues that the alternative perspective, which sees the anti-ageing movement as a route by which a biologisation of old age inhibits people from achieving a culturally valued final part to life, is the progressive one.

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Vincent, J.A. Ageing, Anti-ageing, and Anti-anti-ageing: Who are the Progressives in the Debate on the Future of Human Biological Ageing?. Medicine Studies 1, 197–208 (2009). https://doi.org/10.1007/s12376-009-0016-6

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Keywords

  • Anti-ageing
  • Anti-anti-ageing
  • Critical gerontology