After the Introduction into the emerging field of philosophy biological aging research/biogerontology/translational geroscience I promised some actual questions, problems. I list different questions under different problems but otherwise do not differentiate questions from problems by now.
In a way, the perspective papers, opinion pieces, review studies published in peer-reviewed literature about biological aging contain a lot, mostly implicit, formulations already that can be called philosophical problems and arguments. But time to make these more explicit and reflect to them as such.
Here is my starter list of problems and questions.
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?
Motivating issue within scientific literature: scientists publishing a new paper/review in biological aging research always feel compelled to start with and formulate their own versions of what biological aging is or what its most crucial features might be. More often than not, these attempts look more like bad journalistic practice than genuine, scientific attempts to crack the problem.
In my recent longer talk at Eotvos University Logic/Philosophy of Science seminar in Budapest, I worked out one solution, the first version of it I will publish soon here to provide grounds for further discussion.
Problem #2: What are the criteria for a biological structure/dynamics to qualify for being central in organismal level, multicellular biological aging? A corresponding question 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 list of such criteria and provided an answer.
Problem #3: Strictly related to the translational question above: Assuming biomedical sciences can counteract all relevant hallmarks processes of biological aging, how can comprehensive rejuvenation be defined to provide quantitative measures for any such upcoming experiments?
Please see my perspective piece above on Cell Lineage Trees offering an attempt to translate the question of comprehensive rejuvenation into existing biological structures and dynamic and adjust them with biomedical tools.
Problem #4: What is the best modelling, simulating approach to capture the whole dynamic complexity of biological aging? The question related to biological pluralism applies here as well.
Problem #5: What are the different levels of causation involved in biomedical aging? Is is always possible to tell necessary from sufficient causes of aging?
Motivating issue within scientific literature: Do aging researchers, biomedical gerontologists understand these concepts when they say something is causative in one of the levels and scales of biological aging?
In my recent longer talk I managed to problematise different levels here and formulate the questions with the help of existing theories. Will publish here something about it soon.
Problem #6: How should the methodology of randomised controlled trials be extended to a longitudinal setting in a way that it accepts the different, somewhat ‘weaker’ patterns of biological aging, compared narrow phenomena, classical clinical diseases.
Problem #7: A borderline problem that leads to more normative content, and out of the narrower field of philosophy of biological aging is to place the concepts of biological aging, lifespan, healthy longevity in the context of disease and health.