Capabilities and Open Lifespan, an HDCA 2019 Conference submission

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

Keywords: longevity, aging, technology, lifespan, maximum capabilities Continue reading “Capabilities and Open Lifespan, an HDCA 2019 Conference submission”

Martha Nussbaum’s problematic first capability: Is ‘being alive’ a capability or a functioning? Part 3

In my earlier 2 posts related to the Capabilities approach I tried to interpret ‘normal’ in the phrasing of the first capability:

Life. Being able to live to the end of a human life of normal length;

Martha Nussbaum in Capabilities as fundamental entitlements: Sen and social justice

First using statistical/demographic concepts as ‘average’ or ‘typical’ in

Martha Nussbaum’s problematic first capability: what is ‘the end of a human life of normal length’? Part 1 

then tried ‘acceptable’ in

Martha Nussbaum’s problematic first capability: what is ‘the end of a human life of normal length’? Part 2

and I’ve failed spectacularly in all 3 attempts. So I tend this as a criticism as it seems something is not kosher with the first capability concerning lifespan.

 Today I step back and ask a fundamental question about life and lifespan (the concerns of the ‘first capability’) related to the basic concepts of this approach. These 2 concepts are ‘capabilities’ and ‘functionings’. Continue reading “Martha Nussbaum’s problematic first capability: Is ‘being alive’ a capability or a functioning? Part 3”

Daily Effort: When it comes to healthy longevity we are all poor and devoid of many years to come

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.

Continue reading “Daily Effort: When it comes to healthy longevity we are all poor and devoid of many years to come”

Open Lifespan is not an enhancement as the dead don’t compete

In my last 2 posts I have argued on why healthy longevity technologies (Open Healthspan providing the limit, an indefinitely long health life called Open Lifespan) cannot be considered enhancements.

In The superpower enhancement test: Open Lifespan is not for boasting the case was made that Open Lifespan as a capacity cannot be used for demonstrative and performative purposes, as opposed to poster child superpowers like memory enhancements, and hence it cannot be used to single out individuals in a competitive situation.

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.

Continue reading “Open Lifespan is not an enhancement as the dead don’t compete”

Superpower enhancements are pro-inequality, Open Lifespan is pro-equal-opportunity

Here am continuing my investigations to widen the gap between enhancements and healthy longevity efforts, Open Lifespan being the possible upper limit of those efforts.

In The superpower enhancement test: Open Lifespan is not for boasting the case was made that Open Lifespan as a capacity cannot be used for demonstrative and performative purposes, as opposed to poster child superpowers like memory enhancements, and hence it cannot be used to single out individuals in a competitive situation.

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.

Continue reading “Superpower enhancements are pro-inequality, Open Lifespan is pro-equal-opportunity”

The superpower enhancement test: Open Lifespan is not for boasting

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?

Which is the odd one out? Which capability would you like to have? Continue reading “The superpower enhancement test: Open Lifespan is not for boasting”