Essays on Infinite Lifespans
Brad F. Mellon
the question of what value can be derived from extending
physical life and from efforts to eradicate death.
Finally we will consider comments and analysis by Daniel
Callahan and James Drane that serve to further challenge the
drive to conquer death.  Callahan notes that although
death is treated as an evil in and of itself with no redeem-
ing features (unless, now and then, as a surcease from pain),
and that this war is treated as an imperative, it is nonethe-
less a relatively modern concept (since Descartes and Bacon).
He adds there are problems with this war, such as when a
terminally ill patient extends his or her suffering by coming
to hospice late in the dying process. Technological advances
can also be as much bane as blessing when it is assumed that
something more can always be done for dying patients.
He further suggests that too often in this scenario medical
staff unfortunately can ignore a patients last wishes.
Callahan contends to fear and resist death might be
a perfectly sensible response except for the fact that it fails
to ask the question of the meaning (italics mine) of death.
Likewise it does not adequately deal with quality of life issues.
For example, Callahan cannot accept the idea that extending
life could offer a guarantee of indefinite freedom from bore-
dom and other problems associated with the aging process.
Drane reminds us that another common problem associated
with aging is depression, and that extending life and waging
war on disease have not solved the problem of lack of meaning
for the elderly. Further, he says that ignoring death in older
age tends to exacerbate ones problems. Even if we might be
able to conveniently ignore death for a time, it can come sud-
denly and unexpectedly. 
Both Callahan and Drane agree that despite efforts to
eradicate involuntary death, death will have the final word.
This conclusion is one that is consistent with Judeo-Christian
theology and ethics. Callahan contends that despite victories