Thursday, March 31, 2011

Life's worth

It seems to go against many of our egalitarian and liberal sensibilities for someone to say that a person's life is inherently more valuable than another's. However, some of our intuitions seem to suggest that we do hold this. Mine for example, in a hypothetical where Confucius's life is compared to the typical Nazi's. I will choose Confucius's life and moreover, I believe that my decision is justified. That is, that Confucius's life is worth more. There may be many situations, plausible ones, that may obtain in real life where lives are in the balance in such a way that we may have to choose (consider who gets a rare vaccine for some disease) which is more worthy of being saved even apart from practical or consequentialist considerations. Now many of us are hesitant to value lives but this may be because of limitations on epistemological considerations and for the fact that most people are relevantly equal on many aspects up for consideration in valuating lives. I suspect that moral worth is paramount in such weighting. If souls were more transparent, our intuitions may not be so egalitarian.

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