Essays on Infinite Lifespans
then Bs angry friends could strike back. Be nasty to people
and they are more likely to be nasty back. Tit for Tat. From
Hobbes and Locke came the idea of a Social Contract. 
A contract is a formal or informal agreement whereby parties
agree to recognize various obligations to one another. In the
case of the social contract the idea is that everyone living in a
society has implicitly agreed to play by a set of rules because,
over the long run, playing nice makes everyone better off
than they would be in the anarchistic Hobbesian world.
These ideas form the basis of a political philosophy known as
Rational people understand that actions have consequences.
A life of crime may help a person in the short term, but in the
long run it may get you killed or imprisoned. That we recog-
nize it is in our own long-term interests to respect others leads
to moral behavior. When we respect the rights of other people,
they are more likely to co-operate with us, to mutual benefit.
Of course, for this to work people have to learn to defer short-
term gain in favor of long-term benefit. The critical point is
a persons awareness that they have a future. People are more
likely to be moral when they understand they will have to face
the consequences of their actions in the future. It follows that
the further into the future one plans for, the more moral ones
behavior should become. People that live a short time do not
have to experience the future consequences of all their actions.
Longer lives should reduce the tension between the individual
The extent to which moral behavior stems from the ability to
plan for the future has perhaps not been properly recognized
as of yet. Evolutionary biologists have tried to understand
moral behavior such as altruism in terms of the possible sur-
vival advantages it would bring. But moral behavior cannot
be fully explained in this way if we only consider the short-