Applying Kuhn’s Structure to biological aging research, part 2: the First Paradigm Hypothesis

In the first post, Applying Kuhn’s Structure to biological aging research, part 1: initial questions I formulated some naive and direct Kuhnian questions apropos of philosophy and history of aging research. It’s time now for some history and philosophy of science provocation though. Let’s get to the point quickly in the form of forming a bundle of propositions which I call the First Paradigm Hypothesis of Aging Research. It is currently made out of 5 different claims (the number of propositions can change in the light of further analysis):

  1. Biological aging research finally has the first functioning paradigm in place.
  2. All the existing research on aging so far (=<20th century) was not really based on an easily extractable paradigm, so it can be considered pre-scientific in that respect. It belongs to the pre-history of aging research. (2. is corollary of 1)
  3. Aging research is inherently political as it centers around human application.
  4. Pre-history of aging research was characterised by political oppression, taking fixed, non-malleable nature of aging granted. (this is 3/A so applying 3. to pre-history)
  5. The new first paradigm is political too, but it is now actually enabling research and amplifying it. (this is 3/B so applying 3. to current events).

Arguing for the following 5 propositions demands different strategies. Continue reading “Applying Kuhn’s Structure to biological aging research, part 2: the First Paradigm Hypothesis”

Applying Kuhn’s Structure to biological aging research, part 1: initial questions

Recently I acquired a free copy of Kuhn’s classic The Structure of Scientific Revolutions (Second Edition with Postscript 1969) and immediately realised its potential to help us understand what’s going on in biological aging/longevity research currently. See my Twitter thread under hashtag #studyingstructure. This book is perhaps the best example of a 20th century philosophy – philosophy of science, to be more accurate – book that is easy to read and easy to popularise and was actually immensely read already. This also means easy to misunderstand and overgeneralise, see the mainstream over-use of the word paradigm, but this does not concern us here, since we are applying it within it’s own domain, to conceptually make sense historical change in a scientific discipline.

Continue reading “Applying Kuhn’s Structure to biological aging research, part 1: initial questions”

Aging is agings: towards a recursive definition of biological aging(s); part 5, Open Problems

In the last 4 posts of this study I’ve built up an argument showing the need for a definition of biological aging that consolidates existing consensus knowledge  in the field but also flexible enough to incorporate new knowledge within that current paradigm. 

This is still not the final formulation, but this is what I have right now:

‘Biological aging is agings underneath, the result of multiple, separate, diverse, interconnected, but malleable processes, eventually compromising normal functions of the organism at different rates and at all (organisational, spatiotemporal) levels.’

What are some open problems left with this definition?

I see two main problems, one is related to causality, the other related to what I call the ‘computability’ of the definition.  Continue reading “Aging is agings: towards a recursive definition of biological aging(s); part 5, Open Problems”

Aging is agings: towards a recursive definition of biological aging(s); part 4, Success criteria

In the first part of this study, Aging is agings: towards a recursive definition of biological aging(s); part 1, definition a new definition of biological aging(s) was introduced.

In the second part Aging is agings: towards a recursive definition of biological aging(s); part 2, Explication we argued why the ‘need and must’ to come up with a consensus definition and that there’s strong reasons it should be a so called explicative definition a la Carnap.

In the third part, Aging is agings: a recursive definition of biological aging(s); part 3, Recursion we explained what recursion means in the proposed definition and how it is structured further. Also we have added one modification to the proposed definitions, that is now the following:

‘Biological aging is agings underneath, the result of multiple, separate, diverse, interconnected, but malleable processes, eventually compromising normal functions of the organism at different rates and at all levels.’

Today we connect the second, explicative and third, recursive parts by going back to the 4 criteria Carnap lists for a  – good, or at least functional – scientific explicatum to meet: 

i., similarity to the explicandum, 

ii., exactness to introduce the explicatum ‘into a well-connected system of scientific concepts’,

iii., fruitfulness to be useful in formulating empirical laws or logical theorems, I take this feature roughly the same as scientific ‘utility’, ‘applicability’ or ‘productivity’,

iv., simplicity as simple as possible and allowed by the above 3 criteria.

In what follows I fill in the blanks in the separate rows of the success criteria column concerning the proposed recursive solution and will also add 2 additional criteria, that of flexibility and formal correctness. Continue reading “Aging is agings: towards a recursive definition of biological aging(s); part 4, Success criteria”

The rabbit hole of temporal causation and biological aging

This is part 2 of my series on causation and aging. Last time I introduced the ladder of causation in aging where the bottom step of the ladder was also the most mysterious one that seems to be so intimately linked with all things aging that many people cannot think further: time. Our guiding questions were: How can time play a causal role in bringing about different forms of aging, and in our case, more specifically: can time be factored in as a cause in any conceptual or empirical sense of the diverse processes of biological aging? Here’s the edited slide I presented on this during my PhD seminar talk in Budapest. 

First of all, let’s note that the literature of biological aging research can provide several examples where the linguistic expression used to describe time’s connection to biological aging is suggestive of causality. Continue reading “The rabbit hole of temporal causation and biological aging”

Slides of my Budapest ELTE Philosophy PhD seminar talk on aging definitions

Please see slightly edited slides – removed some basically – of my talk I’ve given at the Institute of Philosophy, Eotvos University, Budapest, on the 25th of October, 2019. The talk was a joint Theoretical Philosophy Forum (TPF) and Student and Faculty Seminar on Logic and Philosophy of Mathematics (LaPom). The seminar gave me a great opportunity to focus on the theoretical/conceptual problems concerning the biological aging/longevity complex, that is the underlying core of the Open Lifespan studies. I’ve focused mainly on 2 problems: the definition of biological aging and causation in aging. Concerning the definition I’ve already published the following posts:

Aging is agings: towards a recursive definition of biological aging(s); part 3, Recursion

Aging is agings: towards a recursive definition of biological aging(s); part 2, Explication

Aging is agings: towards a recursive definition of biological aging(s); part 1, Definition

Now it’s time to start to focus on the causation part.

Aging is agings: a recursive definition of biological aging(s); part 3, Recursion

In the first part of this study, Aging is agings: towards a recursive definition of biological aging(s); part 1, definition the following definition of biological aging(s) was introduced:

Biological aging is agings underneath, the result of multiple, separate, diverse, interconnected, but malleable processes, eventually compromising normal functions of the organism at different rates and at all levels.

In the second part Aging is agings: towards a recursive definition of biological aging(s); part 2, Explication we argued why the ‘need and must’ to come up with a consensus definition and that there’s strong reasons it should be a so called explicative definition a la Carnap.

Today we arrive at the heart of the heart of the heart our definition, recursion. 🙂 Continue reading “Aging is agings: a recursive definition of biological aging(s); part 3, Recursion”

Aging is agings: a recursive definition of biological aging(s); part 2, Explication

In the first part of this study, Aging is agings: towards a recursive definition of biological aging(s); part 1, definition the following definition of biological aging(s) was introduced:

Biological aging is agings underneath, the result of multiple, diverse, separate but malleable processes, eventually compromising normal functions of the organism at different rates and at all levels.

Today it is explication time to build up the argument behind this definition. I have 4 points to offer today in the forms of questions and brief descriptive hints in the titles, here they are.

#1 What is the most confusing thing about biological aging? It’s diversity, plurality and broad-spectrum

#2 Why we need to come up with a good working definition of biological aging? Because current status looks like a prescientific and confusing mess

#3 Why we must come up with a good consensus definition? To acknowledge and further the emerging consensus framework within aging research

#4 What kind of definition we would like to come up with? An explicative one, both stipulative and descriptive, innovative and conservative at the same time Continue reading “Aging is agings: a recursive definition of biological aging(s); part 2, Explication”

Aging is agings: a recursive definition of biological aging(s); part 1, Definition

In the earlier post with the terrible title of What is the philosophy of biological aging research/biogerontology/translational geroscience/? Problems I listed the following as 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? 

In what follows I propose such a definition and it sounds like this:

Biological aging is agings underneath, the result of multiple, diverse, separate but malleable processes, eventually compromising normal functions of the organism at different rates and at all levels.

The definition of biological aging(s) proposed in this study

This definition of biological aging is a formally correct recursive definition, that is non-circular, consisting of a couple of bases cases serving to explain the more composite processes, being able to scale up at all levels Continue reading “Aging is agings: a recursive definition of biological aging(s); part 1, Definition”

List of criteria to qualify as a central concept/process of biological aging

In the earlier post with the terrible title of What is the philosophy of biological aging research/biogerontology/translational geroscience/? Problems I listed the following as Problem #2:

Problem #2: 2/A. What are the criteria for a biological structure/dynamics to qualify for being central in organismal level, multicellular biological aging? A corresponding question (2/B) concerning the translational aspect of geroscience might be: What quantifies/qualifies as a central biomedical structure/dynamics for being used as a medical application in counteracting human biological aging and to inform both diagnosis and treatment? A related background question: Is it possible and desirable to cut across biological pluralism concerning translational geroscience?

In my perspective paper called Cell lineage trees: the central structure plus key dynamics of biological aging and formulating the limiting problem of comprehensive organismal rejuvenation, I worked out a possible list of such criteria and provided an answer for question 2/A. Here is the corresponding, standalone excerpt from the ~30 page perspective paper.

What do we expect from a central concept, structure, process of organismal biological aging? This question is about the potential expressiveness, explanatory, predictive and modelling power of a scientific tool. We list 10 requirements, grouped according to 6 bigger concepts, highlighted in bold. Continue reading “List of criteria to qualify as a central concept/process of biological aging”