What is the philosophy of biological aging research/biogerontology/translational geroscience/? Problems

After the Introduction into the emerging field of philosophy biological aging research/biogerontology/translational geroscience I promised some actual questions, problems. I list different questions under different problems but otherwise do not differentiate questions from problems by now. 

In a way, the perspective papers, opinion pieces, review studies published in peer-reviewed literature about biological aging contain a lot, mostly implicit, formulations already that can be called philosophical problems and arguments. But time to make these more explicit and reflect to them as such.

Here is my starter list of problems and questions.

Problem #1: What is a good working definition of biological aging, that is formally correct, scalable, yet flexible enough to incorporate new knowledge and can be used to design interventions to counteract it? Continue reading “What is the philosophy of biological aging research/biogerontology/translational geroscience/? Problems”

What is the philosophy of biological aging research/biogerontology/translational geroscience/? Introduction

So far on the course of Open Lifespan the fact that my number one professional occupation is being an active aging/longevity biologist (working at an aging/longevity startup) remained quite hidden, with a reason. While Open Lifespan is an attempt to formulate ethical, political, metaphysical and psychological questions and answers around our biomedically possible, upper limit healthy longevity trajectory, the following attempt below tries to investigate the science itself, the biological and medical (together: biomedical) problems of aging and longevity. 

I would introduce here the philosophy of biological aging research /biogerontology/translational geroscience as a new, expected sub-discipline within the broadly defined field of philosophy of biology trying to frame conceptual problems and work out solutions concerning our state-of-the-art understanding of biological aging and the interventions designed to counteract it. Continue reading “What is the philosophy of biological aging research/biogerontology/translational geroscience/? Introduction”

Upcoming Talk at Eötvös University in Budapest on aging vs agings and the limits of biomedical definitions

I was invited to give a talk at the Institute of Philosophy, Eotvos University, Budapest, on the 25th of October. The talk is going to be a joint Theoretical Philosophy Forum (TPF) and Student and Faculty Seminar on Logic and Philosophy of Mathematics (LaPom). I’d like to thank Professor László E. Szabó and András Máté for the invitation. The nature of the seminar gives me a great opportunity to focus on the theoretical problems concerning to the philosophy of biomedical sciences, so on the aging part of the aging/longevity complex, that is the underlying core of the Open Lifespan studies.

Please see talk, abstract and short bio below.

Aging vs agings: limits and consequences of biomedical definitions

Abstract

Currently, most people spend the last decades of their lives fighting multiple, chronic, age-associated diseases, compromising their life plans. Continue reading “Upcoming Talk at Eötvös University in Budapest on aging vs agings and the limits of biomedical definitions”

Sridhar Venkatapuram’s Health Justice and Open Lifespan

The following excerpt is the edited second part of the Health and longevity: conceptual twins, separated at birth chapter of my HDCA paper (see slides of my talk) analysing the first proposed central capability I presented in early September at UCL in London. See earlier installations of this study here.

The point of this post is to connect the Open Lifespan project to an already existing approach within the Capability Approach. Here it goes.

Concerning health-centric approaches, there’s a separate strand of literature around health justice within the Capability Approach, where the current discussion is driven by the reception of Sridhar Venkatapuram’s book, Health Justice:An Argument from the Capabilities Approach published in 2011. We abbreviate this approach as CH, adopting Venkatapuram’s own usage, standing for the ‘capability to be healthy’.

Continue reading “Sridhar Venkatapuram’s Health Justice and Open Lifespan”

Health and longevity: conceptual twins, separated at birth

The following section is an excerpt from my HDAC paper that I’ve finalised today, as I’m giving a talk in London on the HDAC conference on the 9th of September. I’m happy that finally I have articulated this problem, cause it was the back of my mind for long and always seen framings around approaching the topic of healthy longevity without reflecting to this conceptual issue, that might or might not have serious policy consequences. I think, the way it is formulated is standalone and no need to read the full paper to understand it. So here we go. Continue reading “Health and longevity: conceptual twins, separated at birth”

When the best answer is that we don’t know

To Aubrey de Grey who dared to put a number on our uncertainty concerning the prospect of comprehensive biological rejuvenation

In the early 90s as a high school student interested in the natural sciences, I went to listen to a talk by Ede Teller, the controversial ‘father of the hydrogen bomb’. Much to my surprise, Teller, in his early 80s  & sitting on the top of a table at the ELTE University in Budapest, answered one question the following way: ‘Erre tudom a pontos választ. Nem tudom.’ which translates as: ‘I know the exact answer to this question. I don’t know.’ This honest bon mot captures an epistemological puzzle: sometimes acknowledging well informed uncertainty is the adequate form of a valid answer. How come?

One problem with seasoned experts in science and technology is that exactly what makes them experts in the first place is what limits them acknowledging when sometimes the exact answer just cannot be provided. But when the scientific and technological question has a potentially long running impact on human society and Planet Earth, acknowledging the lack of a definite scientific position becomes even more challenging. In these cases, not just individual professional credit is at stake but pre-scientific moral integrity and post-scientific political responsibility. 

An emerging prime example for such a problem is scientists, technologists commenting on the possible limits of what we can achieve in terms of human longevity with ever more advanced biomedical technology. How far can we extend healthy life expectancy? Can we possibly break the maximum human lifespan barrier? If yes, when are we going to hit the next roadblock, if ever? Please note that these questions are usually take the form of what philosophers call modal questions, asking about the practical possibility, the feasibility of some science intensive technological scenario. Continue reading “When the best answer is that we don’t know”

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.

The missing political philosophy of microstates: longevity, between survival and luxury; conclusion and action

In the first part of our study we have summarised and introduced our ‘thesis’ and provided context for the study in terms of literature and the reasons for the lack of satisfactory research in political science and philosophy in terms of microstates.

In the second installment we’ve detailed the components of the longevitarian political philosophy of microstates.

Today we re-phrase and enrich those features in the conclusion and mention some flash points for action. Continue reading “The missing political philosophy of microstates: longevity, between survival and luxury; conclusion and action”

The missing political philosophy of microstates: longevity, between survival and luxury, part 2

In the first part of our study we have summarised and introduced our ‘thesis’ and provided context for the study in terms of literature and the reasons for the lack of satisfactory research in political science and philosophy in terms of microstates.

Today we get to the meat of the matter by detailing the building blocks of our ‘thesis’. Continue reading “The missing political philosophy of microstates: longevity, between survival and luxury, part 2”