Two old friends have a lively conversation about getting old

Martha Nussbaum and Saul Levmore draw from philosophy, literature, economics, and public policy to ruminate on aging.

The current advertising landscape proves that wrinkle-free skin is no longer a requirement for selling fashion: Iris Apfel (in her nineties) and Joan Didion (in her eighties) play prominent roles in recent fashion ad campaigns.

This disruption of youth-centered norms in fashion occurs as more than 70 million baby boomers are transitioning into older adulthood. Health-care pro­viders are also rethinking how they ad­dress aging. Geriatrician Louise Aron­son persuasively argued in the New York Times (August 13) that, although human diversity peaks in older age, medicine poorly distinguishes be­tween the “young old” and “old old,” two groups that differ both physiologically and functionally.

A call to recognize older adult diversity—in health as well as in many other spheres of life—permeates Aging Thought­­fully. Martha C. Nussbaum and Saul Levmore, both of whom teach at the University of Chicago Law School, explore aging using a conversational format inspired by Cicero’s De Senec­tute. Nussbaum writes as a political philosopher, Levmore as a lawyer and economist. In their addresses to each other, they use philosophy, literature, economics, and policy to ruminate on aging, canvassing themes ranging from retirement and romance to friendship and philanthropy.