Wednesday, February 16, 2011

Valuing the priceless

Strange to encounter, just as I'm rereading the first chapter of Evangelium Vitae for "Exploring Religious Ethics," this article about the pseudo-scientific determinations of the value of a human life among regulatory agencies of the U. S. Government. They don't just vary with time and how friendly the political party in power is with the U. S. Chamber of Commerce, but between different government agencies!
One might take this as confirmation that no ultimate value can, in the end be given for something like a human life: something irreplaceable can't really have a value in the standard sense, can it? But it would be a pity if one therefore abandoned the effort to insert the human cost into various economic calculations which would, without such efforts, cause foreseeable and preventable harm. Does it make us more or less human to essay a price in such cases? In the longer term is it more likely to humanize capitalism or to undermine the capacity even to imagine the irreplaceable? Old questions, but still important ones...

No comments: