Based on reason alone, is human life worth anything, and how much?

Can we justify the value of human life based only on reason without morality or religion? If so, can we justify the superiority of human life compared to non-human life based on reason alone?

Interesting question…we’ll need Excel because there will be a lot pluses and minuses. Medicine, engineering, etc. vs. war, bigotry and so on. I don’t know how we’d make out overall.

It should be non- philosophically clear (ie, self evident) that without being alive, no other human values can be held or enjoyed. Dead bodies have no use for freedom, justice, beauty or anything else.

It would follow that among the human values, life is worth more than all others combined.


If one uses logic and love, then yes.

Let me give several examples. It is logical to stay sober. When the logic is animated by love, then one can see it on two levels. First, sober enables us to use our reasoning ability to our best. To stay sober enhances our chances of loving our family more fully.

It is logical to have a reasonable amount of courage. This courage enables us to face the normal difficulties of family life.

It is logical not to be inordinately angry. Loving patience increases the beauty of family life.

It is love which makes life worth living, and reason is the frosting on the cake.


Yes … it’s called eating to survive … or more academically, the survival of the fittest.

A human while alive is worth $35,200, and about $160 after death for the mineral rights. I hope this helps. :smiley:

Worth depends on the market. Where is the market for human life? Certainly not on earth, they die too cheaply and in great numbers to make them worth much even as slaves to other humans. Other thinking animals don’t have the cash and we are not as endearing as a little rabbit, lambkin or other animals we kill every day.
Looking pretty hopeless from where I am sitting.The only hope would be in the postulation of some higher being that created us and loves us as His creation. Above reason ? Many great minds do not think so. I just hope the markets firms.

The value of a human being is intrinsic. You cannot prove that with reason. It is a belief. A true one, in my estimation, but a belief nonetheless. Reason can show you the way, but the foundation is a belief, even if it if not religious.

meltzerboy asks 2 questions:
1) "Can we justify the value of human life based only on reason without morality or religion?
2) If so, can we justify the superiority of human life compared to non-human life based on reason alone?"

I am not exactly sure what you mean by "justify the value of human life."
But, a person can justify his existence (or the existence of any other person) if he wants to.
And, that person can un-justify any value of human life.

I don’t think that Morality (or possibly even Religion) would change this answer.
Certainly a Believer could be of the opinion that human Life is worthless, just the Next Life matters.
Or, that people have NO real value to God, except maybe that God wants to be Worshiped (and/or Obeyed).

  1. "can we justify the superiority of human life compared to non-human life"?
    I do not think that human Life is superior to other life.
    I think that a Tree is perfectly living in God’s Plan … something people can NEVER say (or at least, they can never say Truthfully).
    That mosquito which buzzes around my head while I am trying to fall asleep, is relying on the instincts that God gave her, and is following those instincts.

The only way a Human Being can be called superior to other animals, is if we include that person’s Soul.
Having a Soul, gives people the opportunity of an After-Life.

People have the capacity for Evil … unlike all non-Humans.
All in all, people are the reason there is ALL of the Evil actions that happen in the World (although we have Satan to help inspire us)…

Thomas Nagel, an atheist professor of philosophy, pointed out that life is valuable because it is a source of opportunities. To deny that fact is to contradict oneself because denial stems from the opportunity to deny! If life were valueless the assertion that life is valueless would also be valueless and therefore not worth considering.

Human life is worth far more than other forms of life because we can preserve or destroy all life on this planet. In other words it depends on us how many opportunities for creation, development and enjoyment there are in the world. It is true that there are more opportunities for destruction, interference and suffering but the opportunity to choose whether to be positive or negative is the outstanding feature of human existence and it is more significant than anything else.

Our freedom is not an accident but overwhelming evidence of our divine origin. Nothing else makes sense unless God has given us the power to share His capacity for love and self-determination. The principles of liberty, equality and fraternity would become figments of the imagination. Everything would become utterly meaningless, a proposition which is clearly self-refuting and a descent into insanity and absurdity…

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