How to Determine Value of Life
A significant chunk of historical data in philosophy has tried to expound on the question of what, if anything, dictates the meaning of life. Consider, for example, Aquinas’s views about the beatific vision, Aristotle’s views on the human function and Kant’s contributions on the highest good. Although these ideas exhibit some bearing on morality and happiness, they are construed straightforwardly as accounts of which ultimate ends an individual ought to realize, to have a meaningful life (Cicovacki 156). Regardless of the vulnerable pedigree, it is only in the last 30 years that real philosophic debates have emerged on the concept of living. Concomitant with the demise of utilitarianism and positivism in the post-world war era, has been the development of analytical questioning of the non-hedonistic concept of value and monetary value as well as conceptions of the meaning of life, based on intuitions. While a monetary value can be attached to life, the value of life is dictated by human experiences such as legacies, achievements, sickness, and suffering as well as ethical considerations like well-being, right actions, and a virtuous character.Is our being humans a sufficient condition for our having value? Two main theories have attempted to answer this question: moral realism and constructivism. Moral realism suggests that people’s moral judgments attempt to describe a natural reality when doing science. Humans only need to discover moral facts which are already present in the world. Cicovacki expounds on this theory and explains that what a person thinks or executes cannot change the nature of moral facts (160). For instance, in case a realist decides that it is wrong to cause pain, they would consider that fact that cheating exposes humans to pain when examining the ethics of cheating. Naturalism, a brand of realism, describes moral properties with natural ones. For instance, the normative and the natural come together in pleasure and pain. While most realists maintain that moral objectivity exists in some sense, constructivists argue that we must look to human beings when speaking about morality. Realists view that moral facts are constructed following some processes. As such, some maintain that morality is barely what is decided as a consequence of some deliberation process. For example, some Ideal Observer theorists feel that moral truth can be derived from ideal observers who examine whether they have all the facts and use them to reason.
The value of life pertains to the significance of existence or living in general. According to logical positivists, it is easier to value things in a person’s life than to value a person’s life in separation (Cicovacki 161). In this context, People’s lives are said to have value in the form of events and experiences throughout their lives like achievements legacies, sicknesses, and families among others. For instance, Rodger Ebert started to realize the value of his life, when he had salivary cancer surgery. According to Ebert, as he experienced the side effects of radiation, he began to reflect on his mortality: “I had time to reflect on my mortality, I may have many years left, but I’d always thought I had forever” (Ebert n.p.). Some scholars have also opposed the idea that life itself has value and regarded it as a misuse of language since any note of consequence or significance is only relevant in life, which makes the statement erroneous.
Every person’s life has an intrinsic or absolute value, and no person can be disposable According to Feinberg, all lives should be treated as equal: “I hope the law will declare that life should be treated the same” (Feinberg n.p.). Furthermore, following the twentieth century’s history, it can be affirmed that every person’s life is valuable in itself. Such a claim holds for both normal, healthy and extraordinary human beings. As such, a baby who is born prematurely that may live for only a few hours, a starving child in Somalia, a homeless child in San Francisco or New York or a person with Alzheimer, excluded in a nursing home are all valuable unquestionably and should be given an opportunity to live and die with dignity. Life is more valuable than death and should be respected absolutely.People have different attitudes about putting a price on life. While some scholars feel that attaching a monetary value to life is the darkest staff in history, other modern principles hold that human life is equally priceless. Life is not just valued in a moral sense but monetary terms. It depicts how human beings divvy up limited resources: from making investment decisions. Many people have doubted the value of life and its association with death. For instance, in Shakespeare’s Hamlet, Hamlet tries to compare the pain of life with uncertainties associated with death (Marino 224). In the end, Hamlet realized that he was unsure of what death would bring and defined death as an undiscovered country where travelers do not come back. Enormous deaths during and after the First World War made some people develop different feelings about the value of life. According to Doris Bergen, a renowned historian, the war seemed to prove to, many Europeans that human life was cheap and expendable. Such an attitude may have made some people embrace a new movement growing in England, Germany and the U.S. of improving the race through eugenics.
In industrial countries, the justice system treats human life as priceless, thus prohibiting any form of slavery. The government plays a critical role in improving the quality of human life by availing public goods like safe roads, ambulances, healthcare facilities and security (Cicovacki 166). Ideally, the value of life can be considered as an economic value used to gauge the benefit of avoiding fatality. The treatment of human beings as commodities started during the pre-independence period when people were sold as slaves. Such a trend has continued to the present day, where human beings are treated as sources of labor and paid according to their skills and experiences.
In 2005, Steve Jobs in his commencement speech at Stanford advised that people should live to the fullest, take risks and trust their guts. Human beings have limited time. Therefore, as human beings, we can only realize the value of our lives when we stop wasting time trying to please other people (HuffPost n.p.). We should not let other people’s opinions drain out our inner voice. Notably, every person desires to be valued in society. The feeling of being diminished or devalued by other people may be destructive. A good example can be derived from Rod Mckuen’s poem “Seasons in the Sun” which narrates a story of a dying man feeling heartbroken because his close friend was screwing his wife: “You cheated lots of times, but then, I forgave you in the end though your lover was my friend” (All Poetry n.p.). Therefore as human beings, we should value other people by treating them kindly, finding how we look alike, overlooking small differences and appreciating other people the way they are.
From the above discussion, it can be noted that although human life has a monetary value in the form of labor, essential attributes of a valuable life include a virtuous character, well-being, and right actions. Well-being is the state of being healthy, comfortable or happy. Human beings should enjoy their lives, stay comfortable and execute exciting activities, without being distracted by other people’s thinking. Also, human beings should observe ethics in all their actions. Ethics means taking the right action, by considering different rules that dictate the rights and duties of others. Finally, a virtuous character enables people to value other people’s lives and stay honest, courageous and kind in all their actions.The value of human life is shaped by experiences. It is only when people fall sick or experience some form of suffering that they start questioning their mortality. The attachment of a monetary value to human life started during the slavery period when slaves were sold for specified values. Such a trend has proceeded into the present day, whereby human beings are employed to offer labor in different firms and paid in return for their services. People should live their lives to the fullest without minding their colleagues’ opinions or thinking. The feeling of being undervalued in society may be destructive. Therefore, regardless of their monetary and intrinsic values in society, people should exhibit the critical attributes of a valuable life like right actions, virtuous characters and well-being in their lives.