Utilitarianism is a double-edge sword for healthy longevity: apropos of de Grey’s ‘suffering’ argument , part 1: 4 problems

Last time I had a chance to have a longer in person chat with Aubrey de Grey was in 2018 in Cambridge in the Panton Arms Pub. Mostly we were talking science, translational geroscience as it is frequently been called lately in the context of foundational research into biological aging with the explicit purpose of translating it back to human to counteract/slow/stop/reverse the negative consequences of biological aging. /Disclosure: Aubrey is an advisor of my aging/healthy longevity startup, and is also a friend I am proud of./

We also exchanged some thoughts on the relevance of the philosophy of healthy longevity in the context of the whole movement and emerging industry. I think I’ve understood Aubrey’s minimalist position while obviously readers of Open Lifespan can observe to me a well articulated philosophy is a crucial ingredient of the success of the whole movement and a super exciting new research topic in itself.

Aubrey, being one of the most visible faces of the longevity movement in the last 15 years or so, had been confronted many times with philosophical issues or counterarguments around this topic and he sort of worked out himself a ‘strongest’ argument during these years. I call this the ‘suffering’ argument. You can already read about this argument in my 2006 blogterview with Aubrey, and am going to comment on that later.

Now this argument has reached its more or less finalised form in a Pairagraph discourse between Aubrey and philosopher John K Davis and was published in August, 2020 under the moniker Should Defeating Aging Be Humanity’s Foremost Priority?

In it Aubrey writes that ‘arguments for or against utilitarianism far exceed my philosophical pay grade’. Although am certainly not paid for doing Open Lifespan, but my philosophical training and specialising on the philosophy of longevity since my MS thesis in 2005 puts me in a comfortable position to work out this very problem in this very context a bit. And am doing this cause working this out has a utility in this field. Honestly, it initially presented itself to me as quite a boring task, since I’ve mostly thought of utilitarianism as an intellectually unchallenging and outdated philosophical position, but my evaluation on this changed as I dug deeper and the process is still ongoing. Such is the nature of actual and active philosophical enquiry. And there’s more to it concerning longevity politics, but more on that later.

In this post I do 3 things. Continue reading “Utilitarianism is a double-edge sword for healthy longevity: apropos of de Grey’s ‘suffering’ argument , part 1: 4 problems”

Open Lifespan as conservatism: a defence of human life as existing value, part 3: particular valuing, the pan-biological argument

In part 1 I introduced 3 kinds of conservative dispositions or attitudes, following G.A. Cohen.

  1. Valuing the valuable -> Particular Valuing
  2. Valuing the valued -> Personal Valuing
  3. Accepting the given

In part 2 I mentioned 4 different arguments in the context of Particular Valuing that can be formulated for the ongoing and unending preservation of individual human lives:

  • The pan-conservative argument: Valuing all actual, existing entities in general,
  • The pan-biological conservative argument: Valuing all actual, existing biological lives in general,
  • The pan-human, weak anthropocentric, conservative argument: Valuing all actual, existing human lives,
  • The ecological diversity argument: Valuing all actual, existing, living instances of ecological diversity.

In part 2 I worked out the first, most general pan-conservative argument in detail.

Today we discuss the more specific pan-biological conservative argument: Valuing all actual, existing biological lives in general.

Continue reading “Open Lifespan as conservatism: a defence of human life as existing value, part 3: particular valuing, the pan-biological argument”

Open Lifespan as conservatism: a defence of human life as existing value, part 2: particular valuing, the pan-conservative argument

In part 1 I introduced 3 kinds of conservative dispositions or attitudes, following G.A. Cohen.

  1. Valuing the valuable -> Particular Valuing
  2. Valuing the valued -> Personal Valuing
  3. Accepting the given

Today we start to discuss different arguments to be made for indefinite healthy longevity a.k.a Open Lifespan in the context of Particular Valuing.

Now if we think along the line of Particular Valuing a la Cohen, we can make an argument for the ongoing and unending preservation of individual human lives according to at least 4 different respects/arguments:

  • The pan-conservative argument: Valuing all actual, existing entities in general,
  • The pan-biological conservative argument: Valuing all actual, existing biological lives in general,
  • The pan-human, weak anthropocentric, conservative argument: Valuing all actual, existing human lives,
  • The ecological diversity argument: Valuing all actual, existing, living instances of ecological diversity.

In the current post I spell out the general form of the argument in details using the first type of pan-conservative argument as a vehicle. Continue reading “Open Lifespan as conservatism: a defence of human life as existing value, part 2: particular valuing, the pan-conservative argument”

Correspondence with Graham Oppy on mathematical difference between infinite & indefinitely long lifespans; part 3

For the initial email exchange please see: Correspondence with Graham Oppy on mathematical difference between infinite & indefinitely long lifespans; part 1

For second email exchange please see: Correspondence with Graham Oppy on mathematical difference between infinite & indefinitely long lifespans; part 2

Email #5, 24th of February, 2020

Hi Graham,

the difference between indefinite and infinite lifespan I want to grab mathematically is this, conceptually framing it: if one is treated with what I call Open Healthspan Technology, all of the known internal ageing related caused of death is prevented, but this does not mean that there won’t be unknown ones emerging that might kill people off, and it certainly does not mean any external causes of death (all of your wipe-our scenarios and much more) will be eliminated, so this means indefinite lifespan with a daily non-zero mortality rate.

As opposed to this scenario, infinite lifespan is what I call immortality means a zero mortality rate on a daily basis, so practical invincibility that applies to all known ways to death (internal and external) that now can be avoided. And here we can include all of your wipe-our scenarios too. Continue reading “Correspondence with Graham Oppy on mathematical difference between infinite & indefinitely long lifespans; part 3”

Correspondence with Graham Oppy on mathematical difference between infinite & indefinitely long lifespans; part 2

For the initial email exchange please see: Correspondence with Graham Oppy on mathematical difference between infinite & indefinitely long lifespans; part 1

Email #3, 24th of February, 2020

Hi Graham,
thanks, I’m blown away by the breadth of this argument, and the finite list assumption on strong upper bound ‘wipe-out’ events of humanity’s existence make sense. I need to think a bit more on exactly what kind of mathematical argument is this, seems familiar from analysis, some middle value kind of argument maintaining existence but not showing unicity of an opportunity, but am running ahead of myself.
However, my question is really framed with an individual human being in mind, and assumes a technology that eliminates all internal aging-related (very distal and not proxy) causes of death and assumes only non-zero chance of dying every day (every minute, every second,…) from external causes. Continue reading “Correspondence with Graham Oppy on mathematical difference between infinite & indefinitely long lifespans; part 2”

Agings: the irreducible plurality of aging

The focus of our investigation here has always been on biological aging. In our recursive definition attempt the main suggestion is that out of the irreducible plurality of diverse but interconnected biological aging processes operating on the molecular, cellular and other sub-organismal levels, organismal, individual level biological aging can be understood and interventions can be designed against it.

But we need a step back here and acknowledge a more fundamental irreducible plurality of the aging concept, a sort of global version of the local plurality of biological aging , namely that the default aging concept has been used in several different meanings already. This global plurality comes first as aging usually presents itself in different variants depending on the domain we are talking about it.

We can talk about aging of living things but we can also talk about aging of non-living objects, natural (planets, rivers) or human-made (cars, houses, pipes).

Within living, biological organisms we usually talk about species level specific aging, out of which human aging is our default version, not surprisingly.

Within human or human-related aging we have many versions, some of them I captured in the figure below, and biological aging, the one with medical consequences is only one of them.

At the core of all aging concepts is chronological aging, the passage of time, that can be registered, measured. Since our mode of existence is temporal (spatiotemporal) everything we do, experience and observe has a temporal aspect, an aspect that gives rise to all of our possible aging concepts.

Some domains or subjects of human activity are relatively atemporal, here a good example is mathematics Continue reading “Agings: the irreducible plurality of aging”

Open Lifespan, Luck Egalitarianism and Lifelong Radical Equality of Opportunity; 2 arguments

In Open Lifespan, Luck Egalitarianism and Lifelong Radical Equality of Opportunity, part 1 I introduced different equality of opportunity (EOP) concepts in the literature and quickly described radical luck egalitarianism related to radical EOP. After this I have radically extended the concept of (already) radical EOP by introducing 3 new types of (dis)advantages and corresponding EOPs along the line of being alive, when and for how long. Continue reading “Open Lifespan, Luck Egalitarianism and Lifelong Radical Equality of Opportunity; 2 arguments”

Open Lifespan, Luck Egalitarianism and Lifelong Radical Equality of Opportunity, part 1

Equality of Opportunity (EOP from now on) is one type of equality concept where, and here I try to phrase it as generally as I can, individuals are pursuing any kind of life opportunities (mostly by choice) and the problem is to establish how equality can be guaranteed in terms of pursuing these opportunities within society. These opportunities usually reflect particular social positions as well. As examples, let’s mention job openings, applying in educational institutions, eligibility for health care procedures and so on. Continue reading “Open Lifespan, Luck Egalitarianism and Lifelong Radical Equality of Opportunity, part 1”

Self-Ownership and Open Lifespan: the libertarian problem of benefiting from maximum healthy longevity technology, part 1

Introduction and quick stating of the problem

The full self-ownership principle – FSO from now on – is known as a core libertarian principle. It is expressed throughout appealing to the concept of full self-ownership of individuals and guaranteeing them a stringent set of exclusive rights to the control and use over themselves as persons, their bodies, abilities, labour and use of their time.

Healthy longevity technology is aiming to provide biomedical tools to expand the healthy and maximum lifespans of people as much as possible.

Amongst peoples supporting healthy longevity many are libertarians, and several actually see libertarianism as a good (if not the best) ideological fit to support healthy longevity technology.

The argument am going to hash out here in details is that assuming the availability of such a technology the FSO principle must be rejected as maintaining human bodies and persons throughout maximum longevity limits amounts to such a dependence on this technology as to lead to the loss of full control over those bodies and lives. Continue reading “Self-Ownership and Open Lifespan: the libertarian problem of benefiting from maximum healthy longevity technology, part 1”

What is it like to be 572 year old? Self-Imagining Open Lifespan; part 2, times

In What is it like to be 572 year old? Self-imagining Open Lifespan; part 1, slides from 2017 I introduced a thought experiment through slides, sort of en masse and in medias res. Time to step back and get a bit methodological.

Today I would like to introduce a philosophical phenomenon that continue to surprise me to this day, so I still don’t have a settled theory about it. I’m hoping to reach at least a temporary solution though by writing about it. It is related to thought experimentation and offers at least 2 different ways to imagine ourselves being 572 years old and healthy.

Possible worlds and methodology: times, worlds and selves

At this point, I recommend reading Open Lifespan within the possible world framework to get a glimpse on how the default possible world toolset is being used here.

To briefly put: possible worlds describe possible – largely, but not necessary spatiotemporal – situations that express of something being the case. Possible worlds are accessible from each other through an accessibility relation that can be defined various ways. 

Now, the new stuff: The basic concepts where I start to approach my object are times, worlds and selves. One might make the hypothesis that every thought experiment involving human beings will need to set or automatically sets at least 3 parameters: times, worlds and selves. Continue reading “What is it like to be 572 year old? Self-Imagining Open Lifespan; part 2, times”