Anti-Aging Medicine: Predictions, Moral Obligations, and Biomedical Intervention

By Mykytyn, Courtney Everts | Anthropological Quarterly, Winter 2006 | Go to article overview

Anti-Aging Medicine: Predictions, Moral Obligations, and Biomedical Intervention


Mykytyn, Courtney Everts, Anthropological Quarterly


Abstract

The emergence and proliferation of anti-aging medicine since the 1990s situates the process of aging-rather than "age-associated" disease-as a target for biomedical intervention. Bypassing the notion of disease entirely, anti-aging proponents argue that biological aging is the problem. The shift tendered by anti-aging proponents proceeds largely upon predictions for the future. A compelling prediction must have built into it a sense of feasibility and a sense of moral purpose. Feasibility is principally predicated upon a particular history and a map for the endeavors' imagined success. The notion that aging is painful and costly both for the individual and for society links with the powerful ethic of scientific progress to ground anti-aging predictions in the here and now of scientific funding, research and practice. Imagining this kind of future demands, in this sense, its pursuit. And its pursuit then refashions our relationship to our past by reifying the particular history in which it is embedded.

[Keywords: Future/Prediction, Biomedicine, Nature/Disease]

Emerging with gusto in the 1990s and with increasing relevance in popular and scientific discussion in the past five years, anti-aging medicine situates the process of aging as a target for biomedical intervention and proceeds upon predictions made for the technoscientific future. Predictions of a feasible anti-aging medicine vary as to how soon and how long science will extend life-and health-spans and come packaged within a framework of the "good" that can and should be done with anti-aging medicine.

A compelling prediction must have built into it a sense of feasibility (which is grounded in a particularly drawn history and at least an opaque map of viability) and a sense of moral purpose. For anti-aging, the tagged histories include the dramatic longevity increases in the American 20th century and the explosion of biotechnology-both of which provide historical trends explicated out as trajectories. Coupled with the "promise" of various biotechnologies such as stem cell work, nanotechnology, and genetic medicine, these histories and predicted means of discovering anti-aging medicine contribute to the increasing belief that it is possible. Even together, however, these pillars of feasibility are not enough for a strategic prediction. The notion that aging is painful and costly both for the individual and for society links with the powerful ethic of scientific overcoming (and resisting "victimhood") to ground anti-aging predictions in the here and now of scientific funding, research and practice. Imagining this kind of future demands, in this sense, its pursuit. And its pursuit then refashions our relationship to our past by reifying the particular history upon which it is embedded.

Predictions are powerful not only in what they might tell about our potential future but also in how resources are marshaled today, how our lives are lived, what constrains and triggers our imagination and even how we relate to our histories. And anti-aging medicine, with its challenge to "mainstream" biomedicine in understanding the obligation toward treating the process of aging rather than diseases associated with aging is largely absent from the ethnographic record. This paper, drawing from research conducted since 1999, examines the forecasts of anti-aging activists and biogerontologists who predict that aging may indeed be reversed and/or retarded. Thus, it contributes to this literature by focusing specifically on the competing histories and roadmaps for "success" that help draw predictions and the ethical arguments posed for the pursuit of anti-aging predictions. It is particularly important to lay out anthropological analysis of this emergence as anti-aging draws increasing national attention, highlighted particularly in the inclusion of this topic in the deliberations of the President's Council on Bioethics.1

While the future makes its way into many discussions of science and biomedicine, limited work has been done theorizing such predictions explicitly. …

The rest of this article is only available to active members of Questia

Sign up now for a free, 1-day trial and receive full access to:

  • Questia's entire collection
  • Automatic bibliography creation
  • More helpful research tools like notes, citations, and highlights
  • Ad-free environment

Already a member? Log in now.

Notes for this article

Add a new note
If you are trying to select text to create highlights or citations, remember that you must now click or tap on the first word, and then click or tap on the last word.
One moment ...
Default project is now your active project.
Project items

Items saved from this article

This article has been saved
Highlights (0)
Some of your highlights are legacy items.

Highlights saved before July 30, 2012 will not be displayed on their respective source pages.

You can easily re-create the highlights by opening the book page or article, selecting the text, and clicking “Highlight.”

Citations (0)
Some of your citations are legacy items.

Any citation created before July 30, 2012 will labeled as a “Cited page.” New citations will be saved as cited passages, pages or articles.

We also added the ability to view new citations from your projects or the book or article where you created them.

Notes (0)
Bookmarks (0)

You have no saved items from this article

Project items include:
  • Saved book/article
  • Highlights
  • Quotes/citations
  • Notes
  • Bookmarks
Notes
Cite this article

Cited article

Style
Citations are available only to our active members.
Sign up now to cite pages or passages in MLA, APA and Chicago citation styles.

(Einhorn, 1992, p. 25)

(Einhorn 25)

1

1. Lois J. Einhorn, Abraham Lincoln, the Orator: Penetrating the Lincoln Legend (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1992), 25, http://www.questia.com/read/27419298.

Cited article

Anti-Aging Medicine: Predictions, Moral Obligations, and Biomedical Intervention
Settings

Settings

Typeface
Text size Smaller Larger Reset View mode
Search within

Search within this article

Look up

Look up a word

  • Dictionary
  • Thesaurus
Please submit a word or phrase above.
Print this page

Print this page

Why can't I print more than one page at a time?

Full screen

matching results for page

Cited passage

Style
Citations are available only to our active members.
Sign up now to cite pages or passages in MLA, APA and Chicago citation styles.

"Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn, 1992, p. 25).

"Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn 25)

"Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences."1

1. Lois J. Einhorn, Abraham Lincoln, the Orator: Penetrating the Lincoln Legend (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1992), 25, http://www.questia.com/read/27419298.

Cited passage

Welcome to the new Questia Reader

The Questia Reader has been updated to provide you with an even better online reading experience.  It is now 100% Responsive, which means you can read our books and articles on any sized device you wish.  All of your favorite tools like notes, highlights, and citations are still here, but the way you select text has been updated to be easier to use, especially on touchscreen devices.  Here's how:

1. Click or tap the first word you want to select.
2. Click or tap the last word you want to select.

OK, got it!

Thanks for trying Questia!

Please continue trying out our research tools, but please note, full functionality is available only to our active members.

Your work will be lost once you leave this Web page.

For full access in an ad-free environment, sign up now for a FREE, 1-day trial.

Already a member? Log in now.