Let’s be realistic, probably nothing. But I could be proven wrong by a new film he stars in that has the potential, at least, to raise some interesting ethical questions. Here is the summary from Wikipedia:

In a retro-future when the aging gene has been switched off, people stop aging at 25 years old. However, stamped on their arm is a clock of how long they will live. To avoid overpopulation, time has become the currency and the way people pay for luxuries and necessities. The rich can live forever, while the rest try to negotiate for their immortality.

And here is the trailer:

A frequent argument made in favor of organ markets is that donating a kidney does not lower life expectancy. But is the morality of kidney markets contingent on this fact, and how certain are we of this? I’ve written about this issue before.

The question is, do you object to markets in life years? If so, then it would seem that the argument that kidney donations do not decrease the life expectancy of the donor isn’t just an argument in favor allowing it, but a necessary condition for it.

This raises the importance of this question significantly. Has there ever been a randomized study done on kidney donation?  Clearly there is a selection bias here in that unhealthy people are unlikely to donate. If it turns out that kidney donations do decrease life expectancy, will supporters of these markets (like myself) change their minds? Or does the morality really hinge on whether there is a net increase in lifespan?

Another question about markets in life years is that it is just an explicit version of trade that is already occurring. Miners, commercial fisherman, and others in dangerous occupations already trade expected life expectancy for money.  Does the narrowing of the variance around that expectation increase the immorality of the transaction? Or is there some certainty threshold you cross where it becomes immoral? Surely it isn’t 100% certainty, right?

Anyway, these are the amateur philosophical thoughts of an economist tossing these ideas around. I’m sure more philosophically sophisticated people than I can explain clearly and persuasively the right, wrong, and unsettled of this issue.

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