The Worth of LifeHow much is human life worth? Can anyone put a price on a human life? The material worth, the internal worth is impossible to gauge and then come up with a specific amount. We can judge the good deeds a person has done, review their life and come up with an answer, but will it be any use? And why would we want it in the first place?
Some objective stances
Certainly, as much as we might philosophically disagree with placing values on the priceless, we know that life insurance and wrongful death lawsuits put a value on human lives that reach ridiculously large sums with seven figures, provided that the premiums were high enough, the lawyer good enough. Others suggest that rather than looking at future earning potential or what a person would be willing to accept for a death they do not know, the question should be how much they would be willing to pay to extend their life. Another approach has been that of attempting to calculate the value of a body based on its component elements, a somewhat more depressing figure - under a dollar. The site also suggests the possibility of selling one's skin, and other organs are pretty valuable, too. A complete corpse can be sold to science (for $50, according to the movie Fast Times at Ridgemont High). Money can also be made as a test subject for medical experiments, the site goes on, or through prostitution. And U.S. News and World Report tells us that "What we've found is that the typical child in a middle-income family requires a 22-year investment of just over $1.45 million." Ouch! That's one expensive cabesa.
If you could somehow magically process yourself into refined versions of your component elements, the calculator below shows how much you would be worth. However, this is about as pointless a statistic as you could come by, since the cost of decomposing and processing such trace elements would far outweight any potential gross profit from sales.
The paradox of sacrifice is that, on the one hand, the value of a person's life is subjugated to that of a cause, but on the other hand, the life is deemed valuable enough to benefit the cause. It illustrates well the difference between instrumental and intrinsic value. Mankind has a long history of human sacrifice, from the surrender of the rainmaker in the hopes of improving the weather in Hesse's The Glass Bead Game to the willingness to surrender a maiden to the gods until she is rescued by Perseus in Greek myth.
Others give up their own lives, denying the value of the experiential and altruistic potential within them. Take Saint Christopher, a Christian martyr and the patron saint of travelers. According to Eastern legend he was a converted pagan warrior named Reprobus, who died by cruel torture rather than deny his faith. Here is an example of a human life versus a cause, that cause being religion. Religion which has sacrificed countless millions throughout time and societies, in vain hope that the cost of a human life would increase the happiness and fruitfulness of their own lives. What good however, did it do him? Did it make a difference? Did his death have any impact whatsoever on the overall scheme of things? Was the cost of his life higher than his cause?
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