Genetics of Longevity in Man

  • Edmond A. Murphy


In this chapter, we shall consider three major topics: the evolutionary implications of the length of life, the light that genetics may throw on the nature of longevity, and the empirical evidence that there is a heritable component. It is wise to perceive at the start not only that these topics are elusive but also that they are posed inside an arbitrary conceptual framework. There is a priori no reason to believe that the terms of the question, or even the question itself, have any meaning; it may be that we think the questions are sound simply because, as reflecting animals, we are interested in prolonging life. Superficially, it appears a simple problem to explore, but the more we try to crystallize it with scientific investigation in mind, the more it becomes eroded by elimination of aspects that prove to be irrelevant.


Life Span Hazard Function Xeroderma Pigmentosum Darwinian Evolution Negative Skewness 
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Copyright information

© Plenum Press, New York 1978

Authors and Affiliations

  • Edmond A. Murphy
    • 1
  1. 1.Division of Medical Genetics, Department of MedicineJohns Hopkins School of MedicineBaltimoreUSA

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