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The Value of People

Cowboy0108
Posts: 420
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5/19/2015 12:05:54 PM
Posted: 1 year ago
People often say that all people are of equal value. That is a fact. However, what is this "value" of which they speak, and if it is defined, are people truly all equal?
The answer to this question is no. People do not all have equal value. This will be clear after the term, "value," is defined. However, before the topic is addressed further, I would like to qualify my claim. The saying, "all men are created equal," is accurate according to the definition of value; however, upon growing and aging, people begin to distinguish themselves in terms of value.
So, what is value? Value is the relationship between utility, or usefulness, and scarcity. These two factors combine to form an actual value. Utility and value correlate positively. This means that as a product, person, or service is more useful, its value increases. Scarcity is the opposite. Scarcity and value correlate negatively in that the more common goods are, the less valuable they are.
This definition of value explains the diamond-water paradox. The diamond-water paradox is the perplexing question as to why diamonds cost more than water. Water is much more use than diamonds because water is necessary for survival. Diamonds simply look nice and can act as a gesture. Therefore, water has a greater utility than does diamonds. However, the other factor that determines value, scarcity, cannot be neglected.
In this case of diamonds versus water, diamonds are far scarcer than water. Assume the impossible instance in which diamonds are as common as water. In other words, seventy-five percent of the surface of the earth is covered in diamonds. Would diamonds cost as much. No, they would not. Now, assume that water is as common as diamonds. In other words, water is an extremely rare commodity. In this instance, water would cost an exorbitant amount of money. This is because of the factor of scarcity.
Still, the diamond-water paradox is not the same for every place. In America, diamonds are definitely worth more than water. This is because water is so readily available that it is cheap, or has a low value. However, in Sub-Saharan Africa, water is actually extremely scarce. This causes water to be worth much more when compared to the value of diamonds relative to the United States of America.
The fact that location and situation impact value is important in deciding the value of an individual, as it is with any commodity or service. Furthermore, it is important to note that there are different types of value. These are namely social and economic values.
Social value is the value a person, object, or service provides to society. In many cases, it corresponds to economic value, but this is not always the case. For example, Ghandi and Jesus had little economic value. They did not contribute anything marketable to the economy of India and Israel, respectively. However, these two individuals offered counsel to people, and influenced religion for years to come. So, how do their values correspond to the value definition? The easy one to determine is their scarcity. Very few people in the history of the world impacted world history and society to the extent that these two individuals did. Utility is slightly more difficult to pinpoint. Still, these two people created practical philosophies built on love. These individuals preached peace and forgiveness. Beyond simply preaching it, however, they impacted many people to the point at which others changed their ways. This is what builds Ghandi"s and Jesus" utility. Given their high scarcity and high utility, these individuals had an incredibly high social value despite having a low economic value.
Like I said before, economic value and social value often run parallel to each other. In many cases, wealthy businessmen hire many people. This helps society which implies that they have a relatively high social and economic value. Another example is a doctor. The doctor is often wealthy because they have an incredibly marketable ability. This implies economic value. At the same time, their marketable ability helps people directly by helping the ill feel better or saving lives altogether. Also, like mentioned before, value is dependent upon location and situation. In Africa, a doctor is scarcer because they lack necessary medical training facilities to train additional doctors. Furthermore, they have a higher utility because the diseases in Africa like malaria and AIDS are more prominent and fewer people have been inoculated against them. Now, in a situation like the Ebola outbreak, doctors would have increasing utility because people would be in more desperate need of medical assistance. This is how situation can impact value.
In many cases, the social value the person provides is high, but it is also indirect and the effects are not seen for many years or they only partially effect another sizable feature of human lives. This is the case of the teacher. Teachers, despite have only moderate economic value due to their low scarcity, have a high social value. This is often neglected as their value is not seen until the children are educated and grow into adulthood and contribute to society. In this case, the education the children obtained in school, whether traditional schooling or collegiate schooling, will benefit them and make them better off in life. By being better off in life, people are able to produce goods and services. This gives them both economic and social value. Therefore, the teacher teaching the students the material that helps them in life contribute to the potential the students possess. This is why the teacher"s social value is so great.
Another example of an occasion in which the social value is parallel to the economic value is the case of the business owner. The business owner hires people to work for them which benefits his employees. He or she also benefits the consumers because he provides a good or service to the consumer that the consumer, under normal circumstances, would not obtain. Yes, one could argue that the good or service acquired is not freely acquired; rather, it is acquired through a monetary exchange. However, to the individual making the purchase, the good or service is of more value to them than is the money. Otherwise, the consumer would have no incentive to make the purchase. Between helping the consumers and helping his employees become consumers by paying them for their work, the business owner has a high social value. Still, this social value does not come at the expense of economic value because business owners have great potential to become wealthy, or they are already so.
Another important factor to consider when assessing the value of people is that social value is not necessarily exchanged for economic value or vice versa. In the case of the doctor, the teacher, and the business owner, this held true. Yes, sometimes one type of a person"s value is exchanged for the other. For example, if a person was to not work and rather help people by spending all his or her time at a local food pantry, they would have a high social value. However, this is at the expense of a salary and, thus, an economic value. Still, if he or she was to get a job he would have less time to spend helping others. Therefore, the potential exists that his or her social value will be diminished as his or her economic value increases. I qualified that last statement by saying that the "potential exists." This is only a potential truth as the job he or she acquired may or may not have a social value.
Now, a person may ask, "what is unique about the last circumstance that caused the potential exchange of social for economic?" It is a good question with a surprisingly simple answer. The answer is time. People, no matter their occupations, hobbies, interests, skills, or intentions, have the same amount of time per day.
Cowboy0108
Posts: 420
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5/19/2015 12:06:04 PM
Posted: 1 year ago
Of the twenty-four hours that people have, six to eight of those hours are spent sleeping. Therefore, each person only has sixteen to eighteen hours to contribute value. It goes without saying that some activities create more of one type of value than the other, and some activities create both. Still, people are often forced to choose what they wish to do with their days. Often times, that choice is self-preservation: they choose to make the money necessary to their own success and well-being. However, if people had limitless time per day, who is to say that they would not spend an equal amount of time at work and at the food pantry? Who is to say that they do not take advantage of the extra hours and make more money? Asking these questions is important in ascertaining the choices that can help them determine their value. However, these situations are impossible to obtain, and they cannot be tested.
So, what is the function of valuing people? There are many. It can help determine who get the heart in controversial organ-donation decisions, but more commonly, it can help people decide how to allocate their resources, particularly the resource of time. If people can judge the quality of a decision by how much value it adds or takes away from them, they can see more ease in making any decision from typical and meaningless to life-changing. Furthermore, they can also make choices based upon the type of value for which to focus. If they evaluate themselves and determine that they have no social value, they may opt to start making decisions that offer them opportunities to build up their social value.
No, this is not the most useful tool for people to judge others by. Certainly, people can judge others based upon this tool, but it is much more useful for individuals to judge themselves. They can decide the ratio of economic value to social value that they have. They can decide that they are lacking both and need to obtain the motivation necessary to make themselves more valuable. This is not a tool to set monetary values on everyone as if they were slaves to be bought and sold, but it is an excellent tool for introspection.
Death23
Posts: 781
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5/21/2015 2:08:44 AM
Posted: 1 year ago
There's a more fundamental and intrinsic value to people that is being ignored. Your method of valuation unduly emphasizes utility, but utility is merely a means to an end. That end is happiness and well-being.

If there were billions of robotic servants that tended to every human need better than humans ever could, what utility would human life have? (Think WALL-E) Per your method of valuation which focuses on utility, human beings would have no value. I am sure you agree that this is not true.
Mremann87
Posts: 4
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6/10/2015 5:12:50 AM
Posted: 1 year ago
It is no one's place to evaluate other individuals in their persons for any purposes of their own utility.

Any attempt to mobilize this thinking would cause me great concern for the immeasurable harm which it could do and the tremendous costs that would remain in the realm of the unseen under the guise of good intentions.

It's only help could be for the intrinsic and introspective utility for the individual in theory, which I'd stretch to say is already the case in its informal form.

The nature of value is subjective, and that is the limiting factor.
Harper
Posts: 374
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6/10/2015 8:05:01 AM
Posted: 1 year ago
At 5/19/2015 12:05:54 PM, Cowboy0108 wrote:
People often say that all people are of equal value. That is a fact. However, what is this "value" of which they speak, and if it is defined, are people truly all equal?
The answer to this question is no. People do not all have equal value. This will be clear after the term, "value," is defined. However, before the topic is addressed further, I would like to qualify my claim. The saying, "all men are created equal," is accurate according to the definition of value; however, upon growing and aging, people begin to distinguish themselves in terms of value.
So, what is value? Value is the relationship between utility, or usefulness, and scarcity. These two factors combine to form an actual value. Utility and value correlate positively. This means that as a product, person, or service is more useful, its value increases. Scarcity is the opposite. Scarcity and value correlate negatively in that the more common goods are, the less valuable they are.
This definition of value explains the diamond-water paradox. The diamond-water paradox is the perplexing question as to why diamonds cost more than water. Water is much more use than diamonds because water is necessary for survival. Diamonds simply look nice and can act as a gesture. Therefore, water has a greater utility than does diamonds. However, the other factor that determines value, scarcity, cannot be neglected.
In this case of diamonds versus water, diamonds are far scarcer than water. Assume the impossible instance in which diamonds are as common as water. In other words, seventy-five percent of the surface of the earth is covered in diamonds. Would diamonds cost as much. No, they would not. Now, assume that water is as common as diamonds. In other words, water is an extremely rare commodity. In this instance, water would cost an exorbitant amount of money. This is because of the factor of scarcity.
Still, the diamond-water paradox is not the same for every place. In America, diamonds are definitely worth more than water. This is because water is so readily available that it is cheap, or has a low value. However, in Sub-Saharan Africa, water is actually extremely scarce. This causes water to be worth much more when compared to the value of diamonds relative to the United States of America.
The fact that location and situation impact value is important in deciding the value of an individual, as it is with any commodity or service. Furthermore, it is important to note that there are different types of value. These are namely social and economic values.
Social value is the value a person, object, or service provides to society. In many cases, it corresponds to economic value, but this is not always the case. For example, Ghandi and Jesus had little economic value. They did not contribute anything marketable to the economy of India and Israel, respectively. However, these two individuals offered counsel to people, and influenced religion for years to come. So, how do their values correspond to the value definition? The easy one to determine is their scarcity. Very few people in the history of the world impacted world history and society to the extent that these two individuals did. Utility is slightly more difficult to pinpoint. Still, these two people created practical philosophies built on love. These individuals preached peace and forgiveness. Beyond simply preaching it, however, they impacted many people to the point at which others changed their ways. This is what builds Ghandi"s and Jesus" utility. Given their high scarcity and high utility, these individuals had an incredibly high social value despite having a low economic value.
Like I said before, economic value and social value often run parallel to each other. In many cases, wealthy businessmen hire many people. This helps society which implies that they have a relatively high social and economic value. Another example is a doctor. The doctor is often wealthy because they have an incredibly marketable ability. This implies economic value. At the same time, their marketable ability helps people directly by helping the ill feel better or saving lives altogether. Also, like mentioned before, value is dependent upon location and situation. In Africa, a doctor is scarcer because they lack necessary medical training facilities to train additional doctors. Furthermore, they have a higher utility because the diseases in Africa like malaria and AIDS are more prominent and fewer people have been inoculated against them. Now, in a situation like the Ebola outbreak, doctors would have increasing utility because people would be in more desperate need of medical assistance. This is how situation can impact value.
In many cases, the social value the person provides is high, but it is also indirect and the effects are not seen for many years or they only partially effect another sizable feature of human lives. This is the case of the teacher. Teachers, despite have only moderate economic value due to their low scarcity, have a high social value. This is often neglected as their value is not seen until the children are educated and grow into adulthood and contribute to society. In this case, the education the children obtained in school, whether traditional schooling or collegiate schooling, will benefit them and make them better off in life. By being better off in life, people are able to produce goods and services. This gives them both economic and social value. Therefore, the teacher teaching the students the material that helps them in life contribute to the potential the students possess. This is why the teacher"s social value is so great.
Another example of an occasion in which the social value is parallel to the economic value is the case of the business owner. The business owner hires people to work for them which benefits his employees. He or she also benefits the consumers because he provides a good or service to the consumer that the consumer, under normal circumstances, would not obtain. Yes, one could argue that the good or service acquired is not freely acquired; rather, it is acquired through a monetary exchange. However, to the individual making the purchase, the good or service is of more value to them than is the money. Otherwise, the consumer would have no incentive to make the purchase. Between helping the consumers and helping his employees become consumers by paying them for their work, the business owner has a high social value. Still, this social value does not come at the expense of economic value because business owners have great potential to become wealthy, or they are already so.
Another important factor to consider when assessing the value of people is that social value is not necessarily exchanged for economic value or vice versa. In the case of the doctor, the teacher, and the business owner, this held true. Yes, sometimes one type of a person"s value is exchanged for the other. For example, if a person was to not work and rather help people by spending all his or her time at a local food pantry, they would have a high social value. However, this is at the expense of a salary and, thus, an economic value. Still, if he or she was to get a job he would have less time to spend helping others. Therefore, the potential exists that his or her social value will be diminished as his or her economic value increases. I qualified that last statement by saying that the "potential exists." This is only a potential truth as the job he or she acquired may or may not have a social value.

Interesting, though I would say that it is only relevant when talking about a persons value to the rest of humanity as a whole and not necessarily to be considered the intrinsic value of a person (if any).
slo1
Posts: 4,354
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6/10/2015 8:36:20 AM
Posted: 1 year ago
At 5/21/2015 2:08:44 AM, Death23 wrote:
There's a more fundamental and intrinsic value to people that is being ignored. Your method of valuation unduly emphasizes utility, but utility is merely a means to an end. That end is happiness and well-being.

If there were billions of robotic servants that tended to every human need better than humans ever could, what utility would human life have? (Think WALL-E) Per your method of valuation which focuses on utility, human beings would have no value. I am sure you agree that this is not true.

I would question an intrinsic value. If it exists, how does it manifest itself? Our practical world is built upon utility. The court award for a wrongful death of a 30 year old will always be larger than if the same person was 70 years old, simply due to greater lost earnings of the individual.

The WALL-E analogy does not prove intrinsic value, it just implicates a need for intrinsic value because utility in terms of money is not apparent.

I think the answer is that value and utility is not the measuring stick that should be applied to life. The ultimate measuring stick is no measuring stick along with the premise that a collection of organized cells has some type of right to remain organized regardless of value.

There is nothing intrinsic about that, it is just sentiment that allows the most living entities to thrive and find comfort, joy, and happiness rather than suffering and detriment. It will never be perfect as the gazelle has to die to feed the lion, but it is as perfect as anything else.