Open Life as the central possible world and default anthropology in moral philosophy


The main proposition of this study is to suggest that Open Lifespan/Open Life should be the default underlying anthropology behind moral and political philosophy. I think morality should be redefined by making the case for moral persons with open-ended lifespans. This study will be published in 5 subsequent posts, the first, mainly methodological post has been already published and showed how Open Life can be handled as a limiting possible world within the framework of morally relevant possible worlds. The second post here details the main proposition in the context of moral philosophy and the third, upcoming post details the proposition concerning political philosophy. The fourth post will mention some problems where assuming Closed Lifespan leads to preventable troubles in moral and political philosophy and the fifth post will raise constructive objections that help to further sharpen this Open Lifespan angle by posing further limits on it.

Next I provide details, descriptions, analytical elaborations, arguments mixing object with meta level in 6 different but connected points.

#1 What is Open Lifespan/Open Life?

Open Lifespan is open-ended, indefinite healthy lifespan, ‘Open Life’ is a life lived with Open Lifespan. Open Lifespan is based on Open Healthspan a technological possibility to counteract ongoing biological aging processes in the human body, to keep age-associated functional decline and increasing mortality continuously at bay.

While an open-ended, indefinite life is mortal, it is not essentially finite or infinite. It is what it is: indefinite. Uncertain. Just because we don’t know the bounds, it does not mean it is boundless and we can still die in any minute due to external circumstances.  Open Lifespan defined this way is sandwiched between our current, mortal and naturally capped Closed Lifespan and the imagined scenario called Immortality constructed with infinite lifespan, defying death and defying reality once and for all.

Open Life can refer to an individual life looked from a personal standpoint. But it can refer to an alternative, counterfactual possible world where all (most) people have Open Lifespan, so an Open Life Society. 

#2 Open Lifespan is technologically possible

During the last 200 years life expectancy has doubled in developed countries, the global increase in life expectancy between 2000-15 was 5 years, out of which 4.6 years count as healthy longevity.

Biological aging is responsible for the majority of deaths these days due to age-associated diseases like cancer, cardiovascular disease, diabetes and neurodegenerative diseases.

Luckily there’s been a breakthrough reached in the last 10 years in terms of understanding the major molecular and cellular processes behind biological aging and now we know that there’s 9 major hallmarks of aging. Treatments/interventions are currently  under development to counteract these separate processes, one by one, or even combined to act on multiple processes at the same time (polypill approaches).

Combining this with the default increase in life expectancy due to normal development in the biomedical sciences, now there is a chance to tackle the biggest current barrier of life expectancy, biological aging.

It seems possible now that the maximum longevity barrier of 122 years will be broken and there is a separate longevity industry now aiming to turn this possibility into a high probability. How far science and technology will take us in terms of longevity we genuinely don’t know, there’s 30fold increase reached in some lab animals in terms of lifespan. Uncertainty in terms of limits to longevity might correspond to indefinite lengthening.

#3 Open Life is an eminently conceivable possible world

Imagining the alternative world of Open Life is well within our conceivability limits, just try to imagine yourself being 199 years old under the counterfactual scenario of Open Healthspan technologies with a fixed mortality rate and full biological functionalities, you probably already had in your life once.

Also psychologically speaking, one can develop a good moral intuition by asking how his moral problems, dilemmas can be answered or modified in his current closed lifespan by asking to imagine being 10x older, chronologically speaking.

Open Life is also a more accessible world than say a world where AI rules over humanity and everything else. And this accessibility makes it more relevant when assessing many issues under Current Lifespan.

#4 Open Life is a limit concept, a limiting possible world

Lifespan is our main parameter, variable. From a philosophical point of view if we want to take the upper limit concept of what is possible biomedically (see point 2) we need to take indefinite healthy lifespan as the upper limit, and forget immortality once and for all. So Open Lifespan is the upper limit of Closed Lifespan.

On the other hand, just as Open Lifespan is the upper limit of what can be achieved in terms of biomedical longevity attempts, current Closed Lifespan with average life expectancy can be considered as Open Lifespan at the lower bound.

Please see Open Lifespan within the possible world framework post to show the topology of the possible worlds we are quantifying over with moral theory focusing on Open Life.

#5 Flexible moral theory and ethics covers a growing network of accessible possible worlds

Every moral philosophy includes counterfactual reasoning when we ask questions that are not the case in the present actual world but would be a case in an alternative world, accessible from the actual world. When we here about an extraordinary story happening with others, say a criminal, survival story or war story or the more ordinary and media-frequented extraordinary stories about the temptations of political power or extreme wealth (celebrity stories) we ask (imagine) ourselves about our ‘actual’ or decisive behaviour under such extreme circumstances, we commit to counterfactual thinking that lead us to consider more situations morally, more challenges and serves as a moral educational point.

A moral philosophy, driven by one main angle or idea or principle am proposing here, is always an expanding one and it is trying to re-arrange the moral universe in such a way as to reach as many accessible possible worlds as possible. Developing a theory is an expansive operation, working out details leads to evaluations under different parameters.

#6 Life’s default positivity is the topmost normative Open Life principle

The principle of life’s default positivity can be simply put in absolute terms as

‘It is good simply to be alive.’

It is a normative principle that can be argued for on different grounds and it is hard to argue against. It is used in lots of downstream arguments as a premise within the Open Lifespan theory.

Please read details behind this principle in earlier posts:

Thomas Nagel and the principle of life’s default positivity, first take

Is life in a box is better than no life at all? Help and hope, so