Concept Nest is a Website which aims to share important ideas that arise in philosophy, ethics, rational choice theory, and economics.

These fields often use technical concepts that can be forbidding to learn and master. This website collects simple illustrations and introductory videos, to make these important topics more widely understood.

The author is Toby Handfield, an academic at Monash University in Melbourne, Australia.

Utilitarianism and the value of human lives

What do utilitarians say about the value of human life? Utilitarianism is a beautifully simple moral theory, but it turns out to be surprisingly hard to come up with a simple statement about the value of life, according to this view.

In particular, utilitarians don’t give a blanket answer, such as “all life is sacred”. For a utilitarian, life is presumably valuable because living things have utility. But some living things have more utility than others. And the impact of death on utility is different, depending on what sort of life is being lived by a human or other animal.

 

Killing versus letting die