© 2016

The Palgrave Handbook of the Philosophy of Aging

  • Geoffrey Scarre
  • Addresses a neglected area of philosophy: age and the consequences of aging

  • Draws upon an international spread of writers to create a globally influenced collection

  • Discusses numerous topics concerning the subject of aging such as philosophical and religious connotations in numerous cultures, filial duties, the morality and position of the elderly, the shadow of dementia, and the trans-humanism project

  • Essential for readers aiming to further understand the ethical and philosophical aspects surrounding the inevitability and realities of aging

Palgrave Macmillan

Table of contents

  1. The Experience of Aging

  2. The Ethics of Aging

    1. Front Matter
      Pages 325-325
    2. Diane Jeske
      Pages 327-345
    3. Diane Jeske
      Pages 365-383
    4. Søren Holm
      Pages 385-400
    5. Mary Margaret McCabe
      Pages 425-443
    6. Chris Gilleard, Paul Higgs
      Pages 445-468
  3. The Future of Aging

    1. Front Matter
      Pages 469-469
    2. Anita Silvers, Mary V. Rorty
      Pages 471-493
  4. Back Matter
    Pages 539-559

About this book


This comprehensive handbook presents the major philosophical perspectives on the nature, prospects, problems and social context of age and aging in an era of dramatically increasing life-expectancy. Drawing on the latest research in gerontology, medicine and the social sciences, its twenty-seven chapters examine our intuitions and common sense beliefs about the meaning of aging and explore topics such as the existential experience of old age, aging in different philosophical and religious traditions, the place of the elderly in contemporary society and the moral rights and responsibilities of the old. This book provides innovative and leading-edge research that will help to determine the parameters of the philosophy of aging for years to come.


Key Features

•       Structured in four parts addressing the meaning, experience, ethics and future of aging

•       Comprehensive ethical coverage including of the retirement age, health-care for the elderly and the transhumanist life-extending project

•       Focused treatment of the dementia ‘epidemic’ and the philosophy of the mind and self


The Palgrave Handbook of the Philosophy of Aging is an essential resource for scholars, researchers and advanced students in the philosophy of the self, moral and political philosophy, bioethics, phenomenology, narrative studies and philosophy of economics. It is also an ideal volume for researchers, advanced students and professionals in gerontology, health care, psychology, sociology and population studies.  


age aging old age philosophy reigion death gerontology dementia health care transhumanism filial duties retirement children developmental psychology ethics moral phenomenology politics psychology social philosophy

Editors and affiliations

  • Geoffrey Scarre
    • 1
  1. 1.Dept. of PhilosophyDurham UniversityDurhamUnited Kingdom

About the editors

Geoffrey Scarre is Professor of Philosophy at Durham University, UK.  In recent years he has taught and published mainly in moral theory and applied ethics.  His books include Utilitarianism (1996), After Evil: Responding to Wrongdoing (2004), Death (2007) and On Courage (2010). He is a director of the Durham University Centre for the Ethics of Cultural Heritage. 

Bibliographic information


“The Palgrave Handbook of the Philosophy of Aging is well executed and remedies a fault in the literature. I recommend it for scholars in aging studies, regardless of whether they are psychologists, sociologists, geriatricians, or other. Among its uses are as a general text for philosophy of aging courses and as a reference for persons who work in research or a profession associated with aging.” (Lauren S. Seifert, PsycCRITIQUES, Vol. 62 (26), June, 2017) 

“In The Palgrave Handbook of the Philosophy of Aging, Geoffrey Scarre has assembled an impressively wide-ranging collection of new essays on the philosophy of aging. May you live long enough to find a better ‘geranthology’!” (David Benatar, Head of the Department of Philosophy, University of Cape Town, South Africa)

“What does it mean to be old? Is there such a thing as successful aging? This very diverse collection of essays covers a long history of reflection on the subject, from the Biblical observation of a time to be born and a time to die and the classical philosophical view that links old age to wisdom and moral virtue. Contemporary science has brought new dimensions to the aging concept while philosophy of mind can provide insights into the unwelcome condition of dementia. There is much to be gained from this book both for the scholar and the interested amateur – this is a subject in which we all have a part to play.” (Brenda Almond, Emeritus Professor of Moral and Social Philosophy, University of Hull, UK)

"A thoughtful and rich exploration of the philosophical issues and questions surrounding ageing. Those who think that aging is purely a topic for the biomedical sciences will find themselves mistaken. The book offers a rich vein of conceptual and philosophical reflection, worthy of sustained attention.” (Havi Carel, Professor of Philosophy, University of Bristol, UK)