One of the biggest questions in ageing research is whether there is a ceiling on how long human beings can live. A recent study, published in Science, suggests there isn’t. The study measured the survival probabilities of 3,896 people in Italy aged 105 and older. It found that, while we are much more likely to die at 75 than at 55, once we reach about 105, the odds of death remain about the same each year of life.
This effect is often referred to as a “mortality plateau”. If it were impossible to live past a certain age, we would expect mortality rates to continue rising as people age, rather than plateau. The fact that the odds of dying don’t appear to increase past 105 suggests that we have not yet approached our maximum lifespan as a species. But is potentially living for over a century something we ought to look forward to? Here, philosophy can offer some important insights.
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