Let's say that there is world having only one kind of species, in which if one of the living being kills another, the remaining life span of the 'killed one' is added to the life span of the killer. However for obvious reasons the government have imposed strict rules in this world against killing and will result in extreme punishments for killer including death.

Now my question is: how will the government decide the 'executioner' for the killer? Because upon executing, the executioner will surely gain the remaining life span of the criminal. But I think government will not want that? I don't know in which way they will utilize this. They will surely not let some mechanical operation to kill someone, or may be they will....


  • If there is no killer, its a natural death. Nothing to add/remove.
  • If two people kill each other simultaneously, both dies
  • Passing a sentence is not killing.
  • Physical Presence of executioner is mandatory to carry out the execution
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    $\begingroup$ I'm not so familiar with this site, but isn't this primarily opinion based? $\endgroup$ – Destructible Lemon Sep 27 '17 at 5:20
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    $\begingroup$ if A blew himself up in a crowd and kills D, E, F, G, H, J, etc planned by B but instructed by C working under B, and say G and H are certified brain dead while J heart has stopped for hours. Who gets the reward if B did as requested according to a poll on the internet with over a thousand approved such deed? $\endgroup$ – user6760 Sep 27 '17 at 5:47
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    $\begingroup$ Does working someone to death count as killing them or is that natural causes? $\endgroup$ – Separatrix Sep 27 '17 at 7:19
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    $\begingroup$ What happens if the person is killed by a large firing squad? $\endgroup$ – jpmc26 Sep 27 '17 at 8:12
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    $\begingroup$ @nobalG Oh the clarity of the question was not doubted. But the thing is: you have not really built a world here, not even started building one. You have just stated a concept... some exotic rules that apply to this world. You have not even begun to try to figure out what the consequences of this magic is. This is what you are asking us to do for you. And it would also do well with some clarifications: for how long has this magic been in effect? Forever or since just recently or anything in between? What is this "the government"? A world government? All governments? What about anarchy? $\endgroup$ – MichaelK Sep 27 '17 at 11:14

I see a weak point in your statement that "the remaining life span will be added to the killer". This assumes, Death Note like, that the life span of each individual is predefined.

Let's put this aside, and take it for good. If the remaining life span is added to the killer, and the goal of the punishment is to have the guilty do some good to the society, the government can enforce a law so that the executioner has to be some important personality whose life has great merits (preeminent scientists, illuminated politicians, you name them).

In this way the "good members" of the society will live longer thanks to the sacrifice of the guilty ones, they just need to execute the death sentence.

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    $\begingroup$ I was thinking the same before posting the question , however will the 'good members' do it? After all they are good? $\endgroup$ – nobalG Sep 27 '17 at 5:38
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    $\begingroup$ @nobalG, don't think with modern ethic. The "good Spartans" killed their weak sons for the good of the state, and had no moral objection to this. $\endgroup$ – L.Dutch - Reinstate Monica Sep 27 '17 at 5:40
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    $\begingroup$ @nobalG even with modern ethics, most people consider soldiers to be "good people" and they also kill when told to. Good doesn't mean non-violent. $\endgroup$ – Erik Sep 27 '17 at 7:47
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    $\begingroup$ "Good" in this sense is definitely more subjective than objective. It's society who is deciding who the "good" people are, not the process. Good people have done awful things and bad people have done great things. If the government believes executions to be good, then you'd be sure at least some of its people believe that too. After all, there are still countries in modern society that have the death penalty. Just think of the guillotine or electric chair! $\endgroup$ – Erdrik Ironrose Sep 27 '17 at 8:08
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    $\begingroup$ A minor variation on this would be to allow the victim's close relatives to perform it, as a sort of "reparation" to those affected by the death. $\endgroup$ – jpmc26 Sep 27 '17 at 8:14

I think this would depend on their cultural norms, and not ours. In a world where life and death always worked this way, culture would have evolved in vastly ways than in ours. So I think there is no point in regarding this question as if it were set on Earth in the 21st century where the laws of the universe suddenly changed into this. I think you'd have to build up their cultural norms from prehistoric times to modern times and determine that way what makes sense for them.

In the beginning, I guess there would have been much more religious significance to death, for example, killing would be ritualistic and only allowed for the religious class or the ruling class. But even before that, (maybe before developing consciousness, even) I think parents would have killed some of their own offspring if they weren't able to feed them or if they were born deformed. In wars, the warriors would not have taken slaves, killing would have been the endgame. By the way, what happens if a woman dies in childbirth? Does that count as the baby having killed the mother?

But even if killing would be much more common and possibly there would not be the same taboo attached to it as in human society, they would have had to consider leaving enough people alive to grow food and such otherwise they would have died out. And maybe due to this cult to killing the population is not as numerous as on Earth. Maybe people do not form as close groups as today, certainly there would be no cities because living in a place where no one would notice if a person goes missing is not exactly a life insurance.

The question is: would your beings ever develop democracy if certain members of it already have such a great advantage to newborn ones? I don't think so. So it is likely that the execution would be done by someone of the ruling class or someone of the priest class. Maybe they would determine the winner of the privilege based on merit or maybe they would hold a lottery.

If you want them to regard life (especially "newborn" people's life) as precious as we do, you'd have to find a reason to declare killing people a sin because I don't think they would have any scruples about killing. They would regard it as a boon and as such, in a society where human life is a diminishing resource, only the most powerful would gain it.

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    $\begingroup$ If life can be constantly stolen, it's likely that the executioner is some extremely powerful noble who has lived for thousands of years already and who has no intention of dying anytime soon. And the "trial" might just be a farce to extend his life. $\endgroup$ – Erik Sep 27 '17 at 7:43
  • $\begingroup$ @Erik exactly! I can imagine a despot living few hundred years before dying to an assassination. $\endgroup$ – Vylix Sep 27 '17 at 9:06
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    $\begingroup$ @Vylix An assassin who would then suddenly have a life expectancy of centuries... until you factor in the fact that they're now a target for every wannabe immortal out there. That could make for a cool story; the assassin who everyone is after because they want to take the thousand years of life that the assassin gained by killing the emperor... $\endgroup$ – anaximander Sep 27 '17 at 10:11

Taking a dystopian view

The wealthy and powerful will bid to be the executioner as from doing so they gain the lifespan of the executed and the murder victim.

Slightly less dystopian

The lifespan rightfully belongs to the heirs (family) of the victim, they may appoint a family member to be the executioner as a way of returning that lost lifetime to the family.

It's a utopia because I say it is

The great and good are offered the chance to execute and prolong their lives. All they have to do is kill this person they've never met before. Some rules like having to make eye contact while doing it to gain the benefit needed for full effect. No "push this button and walk away" they have to know what they've done.

Death penalty is wrong

Killing someone just means you get to spend a longer "rest of your life" in prison. Some people have been there a very long time.

All the way the other way

Ritual sacrifice of additional children is a social norm. Once a traditional number of children are born, any further children are ritually sacrificed by senior members of the clan to ensure a long and healthy life. Children are considered property rather than people until they reach the age of majority and don't count under murder laws.

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    $\begingroup$ I like Death penalty is wrong. "You murdered a child. Now sit here for the entire life it would have had if you hadn't interfered, and think about what you've done." $\endgroup$ – Erik Sep 27 '17 at 7:46
  • $\begingroup$ In the "Death penalty is wrong" scenario, half the population would be in prison and the other half would be needed just to support the prison infrastructure during their - relatively - short lives. I say that's not a punishment for the prisoners but the rest of society. $\endgroup$ – Real Subtle Oct 5 '17 at 12:39
  • $\begingroup$ @RealSubtle, nah, I don't think the lifespan of any mass murderer in prison is going to be particularly long. Regardless of other considerations, think of the reward in years for knocking off just one person who's gained so many years themselves. It's going to get a bit Highlander in there, last man standing gets to live forever. $\endgroup$ – Separatrix Oct 16 '17 at 9:13

It's a government. An asset like extended life is not to be wasted. They would increase the number of crimes that carry the death penalty and sell the rights to the extra life.

People would also sell the rights to their suicide (and maybe abortions?).

Eventually there would be a share market for buying and selling lives and life would be treated as a tradeable commodity.

Society would be so messed up......

  • $\begingroup$ We can create any sort of world, rules, cures, preventions. but still the chaos prevails in existing world and still there are constant efforts to overcome it. So letting go by saying that ,'Society would be so messed up......' is still an incomplete explanation of the situation and is not a complete answer. $\endgroup$ – nobalG Sep 27 '17 at 5:35
  • $\begingroup$ Buying and selling life is messed up. The slave trade pales into comparison to this. It would effective turn the world into a world of vampires feeding on others. The government wouldn't prevent this. It would enable this because the members of the government could personally benefit from it. $\endgroup$ – Thorne Sep 27 '17 at 5:41

I was originally only going to suggest two solutions, but then I ended up with five. Oops. Each one solves your dilemma in a different way:

  1. The real-world solution: Execution by firing squad. To my knowledge, the entire point of a firing squad is that nobody knows who fired the fatal shot, so executing a criminal in this manner means that, unless you can feel the extra life force flowing into you, it will be impossible for anyone to know who received it.
  2. The loophole solution: Force the criminal to commit suicide. Make him drink poison, jump off a high roof, walk across an icy lake until he falls in and drowns... the executioner will be there to make sure he goes through with it, but won't actually have murdered him, and therefore won't receive his extra lifespan.
  3. The sadistic solution: Use criminals who've been given multiple life sentences. 300 years in jail is usually a pretty pointless punishment when the average human lifespan is only 80 years. Not any more. Now they actually have to serve the whole thing.
  4. The boring solution: Sentence him to life in prison without possibility of release. Technically speaking, that is a death sentence, and it doesn't even require an executioner. It's just very, very slow.
  5. The dystopian entertainment solution: Make condemned criminals fight each other to the death for sport. Sure, the winning criminal will gain the loser's lifespan, but if he wants to keep living, he'll have to keep winning... and he can't keep winning forever. In your average dystopian society this would be a real ratings-winner, and the betting companies would make a killing from it...
  • $\begingroup$ Proloning the live is someone in jail might be seen as waste. You only have to feed him longer. Its much better to let him die of age and to use the life-force on someone who has actually something to offer to society. $\endgroup$ – Polygnome Sep 27 '17 at 17:14

Their society would have evolved drastically different then ours.

Its highly likely that people would trade with these years. Religious cults practicing child sacrifices for the greater good of their great leaders. Maybe people would even straight out produce children to sell them. This is something hard to get rid of, because even if you make it illegal, a black market will emerge. People wanting to buy those years will get them, no matter what they need to do.

Furthermore, it might be beneficial to have a regulated market where everyone can buy the years he wants. Getting the years of the killed means that you give murder a whole new - very attractive - incentive. Murder is no longer petty, it is good for your own health. Who wouldn't be tempted by the prospect of living forever if only he killed someone every now and then? Its basically the premise of every moral struggle in vampire stories, e.g. TVD et al..

That means a regulated market will be needed to keep murder rates down. If you can prolong your life at an affordable price, without much hassle, then its much better to do so instead of going on an unsanctioned killing-spree. The market will need to be affordable enough so that most people can buy the years they need or want. Maybe its even subsidized, so that even the financially weak aren't tempted by murder. Otherwise people will start to "steal" these years by simply killing random people.

In such a society, the conviction of a murder is only a good to be sold. Maybe there is a tombola. Or an auction. Or a raflle, or any other kind of give-away. Someone has to produce all those years for the market anyways, so this is an excellent opportunity to boost numbers.

Some people will inevitably be very, very old.


To find out what a country would do, we have to look for the distortions this option creates, and how it would affect history.

First of all, almost every rule yearned to lengthen their life. So most, if not all societies would have rules in place that allow selected individuals to kill others within specific conditions.

"The highest reward, given only to the few selected"
No matter how you look it at, it's the optimal tool to create an eternal army of loyal subjects, or even countries where everybody is eternal.
Fools, yearning for eternity would willingly give up their humanity and unconditionally obey, and those who can not be swayed by eternal life, likely will fall to another poison (food,drugs,sex,luxury)... or be dealt with.

To give a few possible countries that might evolve:

  1. Life has an equivalent value in money.
    For thousands of years, slavery was ordinary. And given a cynical answer on the philosophical question "What is the worth of a life?", it is likely that the morals of people would alter in a way that slavery would never be abolished. Just like animals, man will be cattle to people. People, as well as life, can both be bought freely, given sufficient funds.
    The result would be an eternal society, in which people would only fall to diseases, murder, accidents and their like.
    So it's not surprising that such a society would pursuit knowledge - it's the only effective weapon against diseases after all, and it also increases everybody's luxury.

  2. A system built on honor. Duells are legal, and heroes literally may live forever. But the road to honor is no easy one - many have tried, many given their lives, and only a few succeed. And those who don't pursue the path of honor, and are not beneficial to society are just as harsh punished as those with honor are endowed.

  3. A society with absolute rulers. They are the people that decide, the people that steer the country. They and their subjects are eternal. You can either join them, and hope on the dim chance to gain eternity yourself, or accept life as an inferior being.


This question is at least a little ethnocentric; plenty of countries in the world do not even have a death penalty, so there's no reason why your hypothetical world necessarily needs to have one. just give the killer a life sentence. This also gives some sort of poetic sort of thing about worse killers having longer stays in prison, or people being posthumously vindicated after dying far too soon when accused of murder of many people

  • $\begingroup$ " plenty of countries in the world do not even have a death penalty ", but some of them have. $\endgroup$ – nobalG Sep 27 '17 at 5:32
  • $\begingroup$ This works especially well if the prisons are singularly unpleasant, and it can be even worse if needing an executioner present at death means normally lethal treatments aren't any more. Kill a child who had a long life ahead of them? Enjoy the next hundred years of starvation in a box too small to lie down in. $\endgroup$ – Joe Bloggs Sep 27 '17 at 6:03
  • $\begingroup$ @nobalG What I'm saying is that if the government doesn't want people to get the years from a criminal, it's likely they wouldn't have the death penalty like those countries in our world, because executing criminals is not a necessary procedure. $\endgroup$ – Destructible Lemon Sep 28 '17 at 0:05

I would take it even a step further and throw a suggestion in. In a world like the one you describe, the government or at least some sort of organization should create some sort of device that will shield the killer from gaining the years of the person killed. This would solve your problem.

To take it a step further, there could also be a government funded organization that would be hired by the government to carry out the execution, insuring the government that the extra years are disposed of but in "reality" they are packaged and sold in some sort of black market.

Another more morbid way of handling things would be to allow for example the victim's relatives to absorb the killer's extra years. Thus giving some sort of justice and closure to the family.

I gotta agree though with other comments and answers that a life-sentence in this case would be a greater punishment than death. Imagine a serial killer that killed 10 20 year-olds, he could easily have docked 600 years. Imagine a 600 year life sentence...


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