The Human Development & Capability Association is the umbrella academic association of the human development and capability approach. This approach has been established by an economist (Amartya Sen) and a philosopher (Martha Nussbaum) and hence it represents a growing body of multi-disciplinary research covering not just the 2 foundational disciplines but other humanities as well. What I especially like about it, is its policy forming focus and political, pro-active attitude, probably coming more from its economic than its philosophical roots. Usually academic philosophical schools of thoughts don’t have such active membership.
I have already used the Capability Approach in my Open Lifespan studies publishing 3 posts here. Generally I’m contacting all the living philosophers whose work I’ve been using in my Open Lifespan studies and so far I detect a state of blissful ignorance with some notable exceptions. The biggest such exception was Martha Nussbaum who got back to me suggesting to submit a paper for the upcoming HDCA conference. Besides this we have also engaged into a quick back and forth correspondence, helping me a great deal. This is exemplary and surprising as Professor Nussbaum is the most famous and probably the busiest out of the philosophers I have contacted so far. So my submission below is honouring her suggestion. Thank you. I’m not holding my breath in terms of acceptance of this submission on part of the conference organisers though, since my topic is stretching the limits of this approach.
Capabilities and Open Lifespan; Martha Nussbaum’s problematic first capability concerning the end of a human life of normal length
Before I start to lay out different arguments on what kind of projects are suited to develop Open Healthspan technologies, first I thought I ask around. Set up a poll on twitter with the following options below, please voice your opinion here:
A quick memo for today: you, who are reading this, you are poor. I, the one writing this, I am poor. We are poor as with the help of biomedical technology we could live much longer, healthier lives but at the current state of affairs we won’t. Most think … well they don’t think about it in the first place. Some think it is not within our reach. Wrong. Some think they are so rich in other respects, they cannot even be poor in any other respect. Their domain of rich is so poor they don’t recognise the domain, the playground itself has no obvious limits. How poor is that?
Before am getting too rhetorical, emotional, political here (why not?) let’s hash out this fundamental poorness conceptually a bit.
In Superpower enhancements are pro-inequality, Open Lifespan is pro-equal-opportunity I made the case for a philosophically (morally, politically) more relevant way to separate, isolate, detach Open Lifespan from poster child transhumanist enhancements based on the tendency behind Open Lifespan to increase equal opportunities as opposed to being pro-inequality like some transhumanist enhancement dreams are.
Today I look into yet another aspect to separate Open Lifespan from transhumanist enhancements and this is the original argument I wanted to frame. It is along the lines of what kind of ‘intrinsic’ fundamental benefit does Open Lifespan provides and what kind of positional, competitive benefit it does not provide as opposed to transhumanist dreamhancements like potential cognitive enhancers.
Today we will look at another aspect of this comparison/conceptual difference using a very similar pub chat setup as last time. But this time we are invoking the heavyweight concepts of political philosophy: equality/inequality.
What is your superpower? What is your secret superpower that makes you stand out, that makes you unlike anybody else?
These kinds of questions – surprisingly to me – are frequent parts of everyday conversations and the internet is full with dubious quizzes that help one find their own superpowers in case they feel underrated.
So imagine a bunch of superheroes and the odd one out talking in a pub about the super strength or power they have and trying to compete with each other to establish which one is the coolest, the best, the most attractive?
A: I can see through walls with a super-developed thermal vision. (Demonstrates it by telling how many people are in the pub’s toilet.)
B: I have an I.Q. off the roof, it cannot be measured with any standardised tests. (Demonstrates it by asking others to give them (singular ‘they’) 3 100 digit numbers to multiply.)
C: I am invisible if I want to. (Demonstrates it by disappearing from plain sight and then re-appearing at another pub table.)
D: I’m 500 years old. I can live indefinitely long healthily…
A, B, C become visibly bored.
D finishes the sentence: … cause I have access to this cool technology called Open Healthspan, you interested?