Open Lifespan talk at Department of Philosophy, University of Ljubljana

I was invited by Professor Igor Pribac to give a quick talk on Open Lifespan at a bioethics seminar at the Department of Philosophy, University of Ljubljana. It was an online seminar performed via Google Hangouts. I was explicitly asked to talk some Rawls in this context, see the core material used. Thank you for Professor Pribac for giving me this important opportunity and extra thanks for Martin Lipovsek for helping me realise it. Here are the slides in case you wondered, I put all of them together in the 2 hours before the talk so they are far from being perfect to use an overstatement.

Open Future: Open Life(span) as a foundation to reinvent liberalism

The political challenge

In this post I navigate the boat of Open Lifespan to the dangerous waters of politics and looking for land to anchor it nearby. This is going to be a longer exploration but what makes our adventure much easier is that we have a great compass in our hand and only one direction to look for: life-bound. Open Lifespan measures all politics with one measure: how can it support, maintain and amplify human lives. Let’s dive in.
The Economist’s 175th anniversary issue edition makes the case for reinventing liberalism by publishing an essay that is called a manifesto for a liberal revival. They say liberalism as a political philosophy cannot live by its glorious past, it needs to ‘promise a better future’. They think it’s time ‘to rekindle the spirit of radicalism’ and they claim that the ‘true spirit of liberalism is not self-preserving, but radical and disruptive’. In short, some new big ideas are needed, some intellectual fresh plasma transfusion to rejuvenate the liberal creed. However, when reading through their offering carefully, recommendations for new-ish liberal alternatives through different domains, like free markets, tariff systems, immigration, open societies, welfare states, new social contract, a ‘liberal world order’ the curious mind has a problem finding those big, radical, disruptive new ideas that would reinforce and amplify the liberal values, like individual freedom, self-dignity, diversity, continuous, gradual progress and constant search for the common interest.

The new foundation

Let me offer here one such idea that could form the foundation of liberal reinvention.
The idea is Open Lifespan, an open-ended, indefinite lifespan. I will also call it, simply ‘Open Life’. It is the opposite of our current, closed lifespan. Open Life is a way, we can frame our mortality, and also avoiding the trap of immortality. Open Lifespan is based on Open Healthspan a technological possibility to counteract ongoing biological aging processes in the human body, to keep age-associated functional decline and increasing mortality continuously at bay.
I’d like to show how Open Lifespan can be the main foundational and structural principle of a reinvented, renewed liberalism, the cohesive centre glueing together different aspects of the creed, from which different policies can be extracted. But am remaining mostly on the theoretical (philosophical) level here.[1]

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Open Lifespan and knowing our age in Rawls’s Original Position

Another quick post, from the beach of Lake Balaton, stealing some precious family vacation time, also our train leaves soon for Budapest [1]. On the other hand I’ve been thinking on this topic for a while now. In our last post entitled Open lifespan as a coherent life plan enables super-agency we already mentioned one important concept of John Rawls, the concept of rational life plan. Today we go much deeper into Rawls, behind the life plan concept, at the heart of his foundational justice theory.
Our foreground argumentation deals with the Rawlsian ‘veil of ignorance’ in the ‘original position’: a thought experiment leading to a just society.
Our background deeper question: How would knowing our chronological age impact our impartiality, self-interest and our self-assessment?

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Open lifespan as a coherent life plan enables super-agency

Similarly to my previous post, Open lifespan needs an open narrative: life as a series, the indirect philosophical background of this post is the meaning of life question. But the direct philosophical foreground is ‘agency'[1].


In ‘Agency, Life Extension, and the Meaning of Life‘, professional philosopher Lisa Bortolotti argues that the so-called agency objection against a loosely defined life extension technology should be rejected.

Briefly put, the agency objection argues that one important component of the meaningfulness of human life is being constrained as an agent and since ‘life extension’ removes these constraints it undermines this meaningfulness of lived lives. Continue reading “Open lifespan as a coherent life plan enables super-agency”