(This was posted two weeks ago but in the wrong blog…) I have been thinking about something that was mentioned in the “utilitarian” article since I read it yesterday, and again more intensely since class today. I am not convinced that we can actually estimate the value someone places on something. The example that I have been having the most trouble wrapping my head around is if life insurance really shows the value one attributes to his/her life. I didn’t say anything about this in class because a) we were running out of time and b) because I grew up in another country and wasn’t sure I clearly understood how life insurance works here. Now that I’ve done some research, I have confirmed my initial belief that life insurance is NOT a valid estimate of how much someone values one’s own life. I think that someone would pay much less for life insurance (the money that a family is given after a family member’s death) than they would state, if asked, as the estimated amount of money they would value their life for.
Additionally, I would just like to add insight into an answer for the question about empathy posted. I am in a primate behavior class where we observe monkey behavior and do research on whether or not they have consciousness. Empirical data suggests that they do have morality, culture, and theory of mind. I therefore believe that humans, having evolved from these primates, are hard-wired to be empathetic in the same way. Humans without moral consciousness must have a mutation (I mean this from a medical perspective, not in a negative way) that has caused them to act without compassion.