Utilitarianism is a double-edge sword for healthy longevity: apropos of de Grey’s ‘suffering’ argument, part 2: what’s wrong with negative hedonism?

In the first part of our study we’ve introduced Aubrey de Grey’s ‘suffering argument’ for making ‘defeating aging’ a top priority for humanity. After a brief analysis we’ve identified the philosophical core utilitarian premise of the argument:

Humanity’s foremost priority should be the goal that will most greatly reduce the totality of human suffering.

Then we have briefly mentioned that our study is going to demonstrate 4 problems related to this utilitarian premise in the context of healthy longevity that might be discouraging on the further highlighted use of this or similar kind of arguments in the hands of healthy longevity supporters to successfully appeal to the mainstream.

Today we are going to deal with Philosophical Problem 1:

  1. Utilitarianism is philosophically pretty outdated due to some serious counterarguments concerning the utilitarian framework. Here we mainly take a look at the particular flavour of utilitarianism Aubrey is using, which is hedonism and a negative variant of it that focuses on ‘avoiding suffering’. Then we show some problems with how these ‘sufferings’ are defined and re-frame the experience machine argument against hedonism.

The course of the argument today is going to be a mini-class on philosophical utilitarianism to the uninitiated. Our main source: Will Kymlicka: Contemporary Political Philosophy, chapter 2, Utilitarianism  p10-52. This ~40 page essay is something that can be studied over throughout a week of coffee breaks. I recommend doing so.

But before the deep dive into this bleeding theory we need to step back and briefly ask whether we are justified to use the term and concept of healthy longevity in the context to this argument while Aubrey is clearly only mentions ‘defeating aging’ in the framing of his argument? Aubrey himself mentions ‘longevity’ in his comment to Premise 2 as Regarding (2), we must remember that longevity is not the goal of defeating aging but merely a side-benefit. Continue reading “Utilitarianism is a double-edge sword for healthy longevity: apropos of de Grey’s ‘suffering’ argument, part 2: what’s wrong with negative hedonism?”

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”

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].

Introduction

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”