This is part of a rant that I wrote a while ago, updated and adapted:
"The value of a human life is beyond any reckoning". This argument easy to refute.
Thousands of people die in road accidents every year caused, for instance by simple things like tiredness, boredom or clumsiness on someone else's part. One death is too many! The value of a human life is beyond any reckoning! ! Good grief, we'd better ban the automobile right away
It is not in any dispute that inhaling smoke increases your chances of getting cancer. A certain number of deaths are caused each year by each coal-fired power station in each city. One death is too many! The value of a human life is beyond any reckoning! Good grief, we'd better shut down the electricity! Likewise the emissions from motor vehicles are carcinogenic. There are many more examples like this.
What is patently obvious is that a certain number of deaths per year are acceptable to our society, as a price for progress or convenience. You may not feel comfortable with it right now, but in general it doesn't bother us - we accept that we are all mortal, and everyone has to die sometime. Implicit in the structure of our society is the assumption that the value of a human life (which will end anyway, no matter what anyone does), is not beyond reckoning, and that the shortening of a certain number of lives is an acceptable price.
You can prolong a life, but you can not save it. In the long run the survival rate drops to zero. Quality, not quantity.
You may argue that civilisation saves more lives that it shortens, but we do not aim our civilisation at prolonging the most possible lives. If that were the case, no scrubber on that power station would be too expensive. All the time, we collectively take decisions along the lines of "we estimate that the new model car's exhaust will kill 3 people per year per million cars. We are willing to spend one million dollars to reduce that, but not two million."
We take a similar decision about the risk vs. cost to our own lives every time we go bungee-jumping or smoke a cigarette. We do not behave as if our own lives were of infinite value. We behave as if we are mortal. All rather obvious if you think about it.
A human life has a finite value. The calculus of the value of human life is so commonplace that we don't even notice it.
One death is too many and The value of a human life is beyond any reckoning are fine-sounding rhetoric, but are without any connection to the real world whatsoever. If you are truly principled and and truly believe this, then why not start by giving up your car and your use of electricity, or otherwise accept that the death toll is acceptable to you?
This is another fine nodeshell rescue you've gotten us into!
bol points out the wise words of Bill Hicks: "having sex and having a baby is no more a miracle than eating food and having shit come out of your ass". Though it must be said, there's a lot more to parenthood than just having a baby.
Jongleur claims that according to the US government, the value of a human life shouldn't have a monetary value placed upon it, but when it is unavoidable, $1,600,000 is the value to use. For a US citizen.
It has been suggested that this line of argument is sociopathically uncaring, and will cause callous injustices. No doubt it has been used to justify awful tyranny which devalues human life for political ends. But that doesn't refute the argument. Attempts to improve the world should proceed from an an honest appraisal of the reality that exists.
What is the resale value of a human body? It depends how you cut it up. Rendered down to simple elements, it is just just a few dollars. But the value of a living thing lies in the complex arrangement of the atoms. Some of that same matter, left as adrenaline
, growth hormone
and so on is worth a lot more (if you manage to extract it). As entire fresh organs, corneas and bones for transplant, a large amount if the donor was good.