Open Life’s temporal value-pluralism enables neutrality towards different concepts of good life

This is my first, separate and somewhat rudimentary take on investigating a crucial moral and political problem in the context of Open Lifespan: value-pluralism and the different concepts of a good life. Hence, the concepts used and the argument developed are in their initial form and it may well be that the second, third … formulation will lead to different concepts and modify the argument.

The main background text for this study is Liberalism & Value Pluralism by George Crowder, but am not going to cite from it, as it mainly serves just as an inspiring starting point. It develops its argument in the context of political philosophy.

Many say that the concept of a good life (a way of life), or a better life or the best life is the main question of ethics taken in a broader sense [1]. These are problems framed mainly from the point of view of the individual and present themselves and choices to be made at distinctive points during the trajectory of an individual human life. However, in a political context, the different concepts of good life lead to the question of a particular political philosophy enforcing, supporting or excluding some conceptions of the good life.

The claim am arguing for today: 

Open Life’s temporal and intra-individual value-pluralism enables concurrent, inter-individual neutrality towards different concepts of good life

Here’s a sketch of the argument:

  1. Let’s assume a possible world where Open Lifespan is a reality and call it Open Life World. Here Open Healthspan Technologies are developed and accessible enough that all people can choose to go through continuous interventions to counteract the biological aging process by keeping age-associated functional decline and increasing mortality continuously at bay. So mortality rate and potential internal health status are practically the same for all adult chronological ages. There’s a small but nonzero mortality rate due to external causes of death.
  2. Different conceptions of good life ‘drive one another out’ (to use a term by Jonh Gray) as they represent conflicting values, so concurrently executed they are in tension or outright conflict. Here the situation is considered from an intra-individual point of view, although the example given can be reformulated (in a weaker form) applied inter-individually, say,  partners, family members, neighbours, colleagues, friends … An example by John Gray is ‘a life of risk and adventure and a life of tranquility and contemplation cannot both be lived by one person across an entire lifetime’[2]
  3. Current conceptions of good life are defined with respect to current closed lifespan and are not a fit for an indefinitely long lifespan. According to current conception every particular good way of life can be perfectly fulfilled under closed lifespan. As such they can reach their global maximum, the best plateau within a closed lifetime.[3] To use the example of the earlier point of,  a contemplative life can be lived and perfected during a couple of decades .[4] 
  4. Open Life necessitates (triggers) consecutive experimenting with different conceptions of good life.
  5. If individual X living an Open Life, is experimenting with good life G1 at time T1 (periods can be used instead times) and then with good life G2 at a later T2 then individual X has no grounds to argue against individual Y experimenting with good life G2 at time T1 even if X has a problem with it at that particular time.
  6. Generalising 3.: Open Life individuals have no solid grounds to reject different conceptions of good lives at any time point or period during their lives as they might choose to experiment with those particular conceptions later in their lives.

Conclusion: Concurrent (present-day) neutrality towards different conceptions of good life is the most compatible assumption with value-pluralism required by Open Life society.


[1] Please note that here am not going to elaborate on the concept of a good life here (except perhaps some details in premise 3 and the related notes), and assume the argument is working without this at the current level of resolution.

[2] John Gray: Where pluralists and liberals part company, p89 in Pluralism, Routledge, 2000

[3] This global maximum can be re-interpreted as a local maximum under Open Lifespan.

[4] Even if it is ok to live as a hermite and contemplate in a cave for 7 decades, say, it is not going to be ok for 700 years.