Since my last post to PEA Soup was on the goods of childhood (on the question of whether some goods of childhood are intrinsically good or whether they are all valued on the basis of their effects on the life of the adult the child becomes), it seems appropriate that this post moves to the discussion in the other direction. I’m interested in a few different questions regarding old age and I’m wondering if anyone else has written on the topic.
As with children, the question of goods of a particular life stage seems to divide into two parts. First, are there goods specific to old age? Second, do the goods of old age count equally? That is, when are evaluating a life and asking how well it went do we count the goods of old age for the same as the goods of one’s middle years? You’ll recall that Michael Slote argues that the goods of childhood and the goods of old age count for less, not just because of the kinds of goods they are, but also because of the life stage in which they are located. His views about childhood seem implausible to me but so too do his views about old age. Thoughts? References to other discussions of this issue welcome. (Oh, I have read Mary Mothersill’s piece "Old Age" that was her APA Presidential Address and I’m pretty familiar with the philosophical literature on death as I write and teach in the area, and I have and love Margaret Walker’s edited collection Mother Time: Women, Aging, and Ethics.) Thanks.