Theoretical Medicine and Bioethics

, Volume 34, Issue 3, pp 171–187 | Cite as

‘I hope that I get old before I die’: ageing and the concept of disease



Ageing is often deemed bad for people and something that ought to be eliminated. An important aspect of this normative aspect of ageing is whether ageing, i.e., senescence, is a disease. In this essay, I defend a theory of disease that concludes that ageing is not a disease, based on an account of natural function. I also criticize other arguments that lead to the same conclusion. It is important to be clear about valid reasons in this debate, since the failure of bad analyses is exploited by proponents of the view that ageing is indeed a disease. Finally, I argue that there could be other reasons for attempting to eradicate senescence, which have to do with an evaluative assessment of ageing in relation to the good life. I touch on some reasons why ageing might be good for people and conclude that we cannot justify generalized statements in this regard.


Ageing Senescence Disease Boorse Caplan 


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media Dordrecht 2013

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of PhilosophyUniversity of HamburgHamburgGermany

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