Egalitarians and Engineered Longevity

Egalitarianism is a dangerous philosophy - as practiced throughout history it seems to involve a lot more tearing down and destruction than building up and progress. We are hardwired to manage equality in small hunter-gather groups, but these same impulses in a large society lead to hideous end states like the old Soviet Union. Despite this history, egalitarianism remains very popular, and here is an egalitarian view of the imperative to develop technologies of engineered longevity: "Most egalitarians will not have the intuition that tackling aging is a requirement of equality. Why not? For starters, most egalitarians will assume that, because aging is universal, there is no inequality that warrants mitigating... end of story. But this assumption is false. While it is true that everyone chronologically ages at the same rate (i.e. we each age 1 year every 12 months), there is a significant variation in the rate of biological aging. That is, the rate at which we experience the molecular and cellular decline that gives rise to morbidity and, ultimately, death. So there is an inequality at stake here. But, our egalitarian might retort, this inequality is trivial. Again, this assumption is false. The stakes are very significant indeed. We are talking about an extra 20-30 years of health for some (rare) fortunate individuals. And what explains their exceptional health and longevity is not their exceptional lifestyles, but rather the fact that they have inherited longevity genes. ... I think that is the basis of a pretty solid case for supporting the aspiration to retard human aging. Getting to that conclusion requires a lot more work than simply appealing to some basic egalitarian intuitions. But that simply illustrates another important point - egalitarians ought to invest less of their energies fine tuning their egalitarian intuitions and more time and energy in understanding the empirical realities of the world (especially the human species)."



Ok true but...

Egalitarianism in the philosophical sense is very different than the religious liberal sense of the word. In fact, it is as different as as a scientist claiming he is a materialist, which in all practicality just means 'physicalism' in the non technical sense, whereas a philosopher points out the error that phlogiston was discredited long ago and laughs at the silly scientist who does not play his word games.

Posted by: Matthew at December 3rd, 2010 5:25 PM

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