An Introduction to Immortalist Morality
VALUING INFINITE LIFETIME
The first stage of the argument follows from the fact that
the continuation of our lives requires effort, both individually
and on the social level. The continuation of human life is not
guaranteed. There are basic survival requirements. Humans
need air, water, food and shelter at an absolute minimum.
We have to take actions on an on-going basis to ensure sur-
vival. Staying alive takes work! At any moment sentient beings
have choices. Some of the choices we make will harm our
chances of survival. Other choices will enhance our survival
prospects. Since life is better than death, it follows that the
choices that harm survival prospects are bad, and the choices
that enhance survival prospects are good.
It is clear, however, that simply focusing on our own
short-term survival hardly leads to other ethical behavior.
For instance, we could steal someones wallet. If there was
a lot of money in it, it might enhance our own short-term
survival prospects greatly, but few people would regard this as
But why should our goal simply be short-term survival?
For the example of stealing someones wallet, such behavior
may help the thief in the short-term, but could it be that in
the long run such behavior actually reduces survival prospects?
Imagine if everyone lived in a barbaric way, trying to take
advantage of everyone else. In the distant past social life was
closer to this. Small tribes spent their time fighting with other
tribes - rape and pillage were the preferred modus operandi.
This pre-civilized state has come to be known as Hobbesian
after the political philosopher Thomas Hobbes.
What Hobbes pointed out was that it would actually be to
everyones long-term advantage to accept some limitations
on their behavior. The idea was that people could always
hurt each other if they were determined enough. If A hurt B,