The social and biological aspects of human death and social downshifting as a philosophical problem




social downshifting, human death, social identity, value functionalism, sanctity of life, quality of life, technological life-extension capabilities


Social downshifting is emerging as one of the key strategies of optimizing and maintaining the quality of human life in view of the prospect meet one's death with dignity. The aim of the issue is to conceptualize the term “social downshifting”, by analyzing the relationship between social and biological aspects of death and the connection of a person's understanding of his/her death with his/her social self-identification. In this study the functional approach was used in its value interpretation, that is, as a method of value functionalism. If social downshift emerges as a social value, it can have different functional consequences - institutional, organizational, communicative. On the other hand, the functional choice of a person in favor of social downshift as accepting a new value of the state of limited functional capacity can have very different value reasons - biological (anthropologic, environmental, etc.) or social (ethical, religious, political, economic, etc.). Social downshifting is not an outgrowth of social identity frameworks, but rather their artificial (possibly temporary) narrowing. While there may be objective reasons for this, social downshifting is still the result of the subjective, conscious position being taken by an individual, with which he or she is replacing his/her previous, socially aggressive and expansive position. Changing of the social identification is the best alternative to the uncompensated loss of grounds for the individual’s ordinary method of social identification. The uncompensated loss of identity is essentially social death of a person - full or partial, and it is not surprising, therefore, that it often entails overt or covert suicide, that is, premature, artificially caused physical death. Therefore, social downshifting as a realistic variant of changing the social identity of an individual in unfavorable circumstances, acts as a safeguard against suicide. With successful social downshifting, the person acquires a new meaning of life and new, acceptable living conditions. Thus, a person is motivated to use the technological life-extension capabilities that global civilization offers.

Author Biographies

Mykhailo Boichenko, Taras Shevchenko National University, Kyiv

DSc (Philosophy), Professor

Nataliia Boichenko, Shupyk National Medical Academy of Postgraduate Education, Kyiv

DSc (Philosophy), Professor,

Professor of Department of Philosophy,

Zoia Shevchenko, Bohdan Khmelnytsky National University of Cherkasy

PhD (Philosophy), Docent, Associate Professor


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How to Cite

Boichenko, M., Boichenko, N., & Shevchenko, Z. (2021). The social and biological aspects of human death and social downshifting as a philosophical problem. Skhid, (1(165), 35–40.



Social Philosophy