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Imagination and idealism in the medical sciences of an ageing world
  1. Colin Farrelly
  1. Political Studies, Queen's University, Kingston, Ontario, Canada
  1. Correspondence to Dr Colin Farrelly, Political Studies, Queen's University, Kingston, Canada; farrelly{at}queensu.ca

Abstract

Imagination and idealism are particularly important creative epistemic virtues for the medical sciences if we hope to improve the health of the world’s ageing population. To date, imagination and idealism within the medical sciences have been dominated by a paradigm of disease control, a paradigm which has realised significant, but also limited, success. Disease control proved particularly successful in mitigating the early-life mortality risks from infectious diseases, but it has proved less successful when applied to the chronic diseases of late life (like cancer). The time is ripe for the emergence and prominence of a supplementary medical research paradigm, the paradigm of ‘healthy ageing’ which prioritises the goal of rate (of ageing) control rather than disease control. This is the difference between extending the human healthspan versus extending survival by managing (or trying to eliminate) the multi-morbidities, frailty and disability currently prevalent in late life. The idealism of the disease control paradigm is myopic because it ignores the health constraints imposed by the inborn ageing process itself, a biological reality which is already inflicting significant economic and disease burdens on the world’s ageing populations. Unless the medical sciences retard the rate of biological ageing, these problems will continue to be amplified as larger numbers of persons survive into late life.

  • Aged
  • Communicable Diseases
  • Public Policy
  • Enhancement

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Footnotes

  • Contributors CF is the sole author of this submission.

  • Funding The authors have not declared a specific grant for this research from any funding agency in the public, commercial or not-for-profit sectors.

  • Competing interests None declared.

  • Provenance and peer review Not commissioned; externally peer reviewed.

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