If human life is priceless…

… does human life have infinite value? Should we spend any amount of money to save someones life?

Clearly the answer is no. But here’s a harder one: If someone has a disease and we have the means to cure it with very expensive treatment, should we cure him no matter the circumstances? Even if the diseased man is sure to die soon? Even if the money could be spent to cure 10 other people?

Are people that have to make these sorts of decisions every day, evil? What if those people have a profit motive? What if they work in a non-profit but non-governmental agency?

4 thoughts on “If human life is priceless…”

  1. I agree.

    Here’s another poser: If someone stands a higher than average chance of getting a specific disease, should we cut that person off from all treatment for every disease? Even if the potentially diseased man only stands a slightly higher than average chance of contracting this disease? Even if the money could be spent to cure a tenth of another person?

  2. Exactly. As resources are scarce, somebody has to do the math. To paraphrase Tyler Cowan: it must be done. In other words, it cannot not be done. It must be done, as in “must” conjoined with “be done”. Where “must” signifies required as in there is no possible iteration of the universe in which its not done. Do you want to hear more about the importance of the modifier “must”?

    Those that do that math are not evil and there’s no reason to think bureaucrats would be better at it than private sector middle managers. There is reason to think that private sector middle managers are cogs in a system that is self-correcting whereas bureaucrats are not. This, to me, is a virtue.

  3. Yes. Like air traffic controllers and municipal water inspectors. We have some of the dirtiest water and collision-prone airports in the developed world because there is no private competition to keep these systems running in top shape.

    It’d be pretty easy to Godwin this thread.

  4. Dude. “Municipal” != Feds. My argument is with big scary monopolies.

    In any case, I don’t see how your comment is either here nor there. Yes, the Feds provide some services and they’re not complete disasters at doing it. So?

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