Journal article

The ethics of life expectancy.

Robin Small

Bioethics | Published : 2002

Abstract

Some ethical dilemmas in health care, such as over the use of age as a criterion of patient selection, appeal to the notion of life expectancy. However, some features of this concept have not been discussed. Here I look in turn at two aspects: one positive--our expectation of further life--and the other negative--the loss of potential life brought about by death. The most common method of determining this loss, by counting only the period of time between death and some particular age, implies that those who die at ages not far from that one are regarded as losing very little potential life, while those who die at greater ages are regarded as losing none at all. This approach has methodologic..

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