Longevity Science and the Social Justice Viewpoint

It is always a good idea to learn more about how the other half of the world thinks. Most people are closer to the values of social justice than the values of libertarianism, for all that that sort of "justice" (i.e. forced redistribution and mob envy) is just as destructive of wealth and progress as communism or fascism when put into earnest practice. It becomes a tyranny of egalitarianism, a leveling down, a tearing down of the high points of society, the groups that produce advances in technology. One of the values of reading In Search of Enlightenment is seeing the thinking that leads someone enmeshed in the culture of social justice - whose members characteristically belittle or reject scientific progress and the markets that drive it - come to advocate for longevity science and the defeat of aging: "Over the past decade I have worked at the intersection of issues in political philosophy/theory and the medical sciences. I have tried to help bridge what I take to be a troublesome divide between the field most concerned with ideals of justice and equality, and scientific advances (especially in the field of biogerontology) which could profoundly improve human health and prosperity. These two things are linked in important ways, but there is very little actually written by theorists on these kinds of topics. Bridging this gap is an up-hill struggle for a variety of reasons. The theoretical concepts and normative theories developed in political philosophy over the past 4 decades either ignored the realities of morbidity (e.g. like the fact that aging is a major risk factor for disease) or just assumed people went through their complete lives as 'healthy and productive members of society'. This meant the (almost exclusive) focus of theories of distributive justice was on the distribution of wealth and income. A fair society could be measured, so went the reasoning, to a large extent by the pattern of the distribution of a society's wealth. And the extent to which theories of justice have expanded, in the last 2 decades, to tackle topics like global justice and health, they are still constrained by the original assumptions and limited perspectives/concepts with which the dominant normative theories were originally devised. In other words, taking a theory of domestic justice designed to apply to a healthy and affluent society and then trying to make a few modifications once you take disease and debt seriously is not, imho, a recipe for success."

Link: http://colinfarrelly.blogspot.com/2012/06/how-to-put-aging-and-biogerontology-in.html


As someone who has been involved with political parties, and studied politics - along with other things - at university, I am literally astounded by the neglect of the significance of age on both the theorists and the practitioners of politics. In general, I am shocked by how so many people simply do not think of these things; but I thought that politics, which contains many highly intelligent people, might be an exception to the general principle. In my own work I seek to advocate for aging to be incorporated into politics.

Posted by: HR at June 22nd, 2012 11:32 AM

I'm also astonished by the almost complete ignorance of the significance of aging and of anti-aging technologies on all factions of the political spectrum. On the left, as Colin Farrely of In Search of Enlightenment points out, there is a ritualistic commitment to redistribution and empowerment as the ultimate societal good. On the right, there is a devoting to individual liberty, small government, and traditional values. But neither side recognizes, with exceptions like this blog and technologically informed libertarians, that anti-aging technology transcends these old political debates. And sorry to say, when individuals from the traditional left and right are first informed about longevity science, their first instincts are to view it as a threat to their political projects.

Posted by: Ranjit Suresh at June 22nd, 2012 1:06 PM

Post a comment; thoughtful, considered opinions are valued. New comments can be edited for a few minutes following submission. Comments incorporating ad hominem attacks, advertising, and other forms of inappropriate behavior are likely to be deleted.

Note that there is a comment feed for those who like to keep up with conversations.