Aging and the anthropology of dependency
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Aging and the anthropology of dependency. Alfredo Marcos Department of Philosophy / University of Valladolid (Spain) [email protected] 1. Introduction 2. People and other animals in Peter Singer. Consequences for dependent people

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Aging and the anthropology of dependency l.jpg

Aging and the anthropology of dependency

Alfredo Marcos

Department of Philosophy / University of Valladolid (Spain)

[email protected]


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1. Introduction

2. People and other animals in Peter Singer. Consequences for dependent people

3. People and other animals in Alasdair MacIntyre. Consequences for dependent people

4. Concluding remarks and new perspectives


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1. Introduction

  • An anthropology of the dependency could improve our understanding of aging. Dependency occurs because our animal and social nature

  • Some modern philosophers have defined human being exclusively as a rational being, forgetting our animal part, our vulnerability and dependency

  • Aristotelian tradition has always defined human being as a rational and social animal (zoon logon politikon)

  • The Christian element added by Aquinas to the Aristotelian tradition taught us the great value of the weak and dependent person

  • Nowadays, some philosophers, like Singer and MacIntyre, are bringing to the first plane the corporal nature of the human being and our closeness to the rest of the animals, but each one of them has reached completely different conclusions regarding dependency


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2. People and other animals in Peter SingerConsequencies for dependent people

  • Extended utilitarianism and hedonism

  • Anti-speciesism

  • The dilemma of the anti-speciesism: no discrimination at all, or discrimination in value between human beings

  • Singer justifies infanticide in some cases and accept that different human lives have different value. Dependent people seem to be less valuable than autonomous people


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3. People and other animals in Alasdair MacIntyreConsequencies for dependent people

  • Revisiting Aristotle’s and Aquinas’s Anthropology: “Perhaps – writes MacIntyre - in order to consider properly the phenomena of disability and dependency, it would be necessary to begin with a new affirmation of our animal condition”

  • A moral philosophy written from the perspective of the dependent people (for all of us have been/are/will be dependent people)

  • Virtues of autonomy and virtues of dependency

  • Equal dignity, unconditional care

  • Learning from dependent people


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4. Concluding remarks and new perspectives

  • Three (or four) ages of human life: an erroneous theory

  • Three (or four) ages, but the same dignity

  • Third age and evolutionary theory

  • Anthropology (zoon logon politikon) and the principles of bioethics:

    • Rationality (logon) - Autonomy

    • Biological vulnerability (zoon) – Beneficence, nonmaleficence

    • Social dependency (politikon) - Justice


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