An Introduction to Immortalist Morality
Can it be logically proved that life is better than death?
The question is debatable, but such proof is not necessary,
provided that virtually all readers can agree that this is a good
starting premise. One does not have to agree that in all cir-
cumstances life is better than death. Sometimes death may
indeed be preferable. All that is being proposed is that in gen-
eral, life is better than death. Most sane people could probably
intuitively agree with the claim. In fact, the preference for life
appears to be a universal throughout human culture. It is near
universal for humans to celebrate birth and lament death.
Let us now apply the idea that life is generally better
than death to the ethical question of human life extension.
Suppose that at some point in the future science finds a way
to eradicate aging and disease, so that barring accidents or
violence a person could live on indefinitely. Let us further
suppose that science can not only lengthen life, but also fully
reverse any disabilities and symptoms of old age, so that every-
one can enjoy the vigor of a healthy 20-year old. Put aside
the question of whether or not such a thing is possible for the
moment. The question we are asking here is whether or not
eternal youth would be ethical. How long would you choose
to live, if you had the choice of living in good health for as
long as you desired?
A variety of possible objections to the offer of eternal youth
present themselves. The objections can be divided into two
different categories: practical and philosophical. Practical wor-
ries might include: the population problem, the problem of
scarce resources and environmental pollution, eternal youth
that is only available to the wealthy, the accumulation of too
much wealth and power by an elite group of immortals.
We shall not here examine the myriad of practical problems
that radical life extension might cause. It shall simply be noted
that the historical record suggests that almost any scientific or
technological advance causes new practical problems. (As an