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+4 votes
What is the "value" of a human life from anarchist perspective?
Do you believe it is priceless? Can/should it be measured in money?

I do get this question a lot by "an"-caps and other pro-capitalists, social darwinists and similar minded people...
by (640 points)

what is meant by "life"? some abstract, generalized "human life"? a particular living being?

to think of anything in economic terms is pure... economics.  to me, economics is anti-life (using any definition that works for me). so no, i cannot think of life in economic terms.

i think of life - in the general, abstract sense - as a pretty incredible natural development. i surely value - in the sense of my personal needs/wants - some individual lives more than others, at different moments in time. but the idea of putting some economic value on an individual life is beyond absurd to me.

now, putting a price on ending someone's life...   

joking, of course.

...and all this time i was under the impression that living preceded any kind of valuation. ah, but then again we're dealing with religiosity when we speak economically.
the original question is specific to human life. what of non-human life?

i also want to add that the concept of life being "sacred" - a concept held tight by a great many - is a bizarre and religious concept to me. talk about reification....

(human) 'life' is only 'sacred' prior to exit from a womb.  once out  (human) 'life ought to fight and die for 'the sacred.'

I dunno $8.73? An elephant would be $19.99 plus tax. Putting monetary value on life is completely meaningless to me and is silly.
I think ancaps ask questions like that because they view all life, or pretty much any and everything, as property and nothing else. Everything they preach revolves around property, as far as I can tell.
even from a capitalist perspective life has no value, it's what you can get out of those individual lives. Some who buys child sex slaves is not going to pay for a 50 year old sex slave..."value" is one of the stupidest and most loaded economic terms. Sure, something you own might be said to be worth $1000, but it might be impossible to find someone who's willing to pay that for that particular thing you have, hence, it's almost a useless estimation.

if that's a dry enough and strictly economic way to put it!
life, like freedom, isn't free. it costs a buck oh five.
life is still that cheap? i thought with inflation and all...where did you git one for that price? walmart? target? is yours american made?
well, this black friday i hear target is selling life 30%! Come out and enjoy the savings!
black friday! yes, maybe we can cause a run on target, and get them to sell out of lives!

because after all, once there are no more lives for sale...

[y'all did see "team america", right?]

Freedom isn't free and it costs folks like you and me. If we don't all chip in, we'll never pay that bill. :P

yeah i love everything from matt and trey parker, despite whatever their political opinions may be

1 Answer

+3 votes

Such a question, or the assertion (that life has a value), smacks of absurd ridiculousness to me. Despite its implied appeal to 'objectivity,' it remains, within the confines of critical thinking, an example of begging the question. Put another way, it's a circularity; an implied valuation on valuation; values are valuable. Does this mean valuing is valuable? Anyway, there's a subtle shiftiness from activity (verb) to thing (noun) becomes which becomes apparent very quickly.

From another angle:

Say your interlocutor is named Bob. Is Bob living? Or does Bob somehow have 'life'? Does Bob believe 'Bob' is somehow separable from 'his life'?   Where did 'Bob' manage to catch or seize 'life'? Or, conversely, how did 'life' pick up this 'Bob'? If Bob isn't irritable by this time, Bob, according to the demands of this logical play, should be able to define 'Bob' and 'life' unhesitatingly and clearly.  Otherwise, Bob has just shown they're speaking gibberish while at the same time demanding clarity from you.

If such 'things' ('Bob,' 'life') cannot be 'defined,' then questions pertaining to 'value of life' may be seen easily as nonsense and hardly have anything to do with living and continuously re-valuing, or preferably (following my own penchant toward etymological broadening), re-worth-ing.

For me this kind of logical heel-digging comes across as nothing but a deep-seated fear and distrust in the messiness we call 'world.'  Attendant with this fear/distrust, is the drive to shape 'the world' into something more malleable and controllable toward ends I desire to see perennially unrealized.

by (7.5k points)
edited by