The social disvalue of premature deaths

In Iwao Hirose & Andrew Reisner (eds.), Weighing and reasoning: Themes from the philosophy of John Broome. Oxford, England: Oxford University Press (2015)
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Much public policy analysis requires us to place a monetary value on the bad- ness of a premature human death. Currently dominant approaches to determining this ‘value of a life’ focus exclusively on the ‘self-regarding’ value of life — that is, the value of a person’s life to the person whose death is in question — and altogether ignore effects on other people. This procedure would be justified if, as seems intuitively plausible, other-regarding effects were negligible in comparison with self-regarding ones. I argue that in the light of the issue of overpopulation, that intuitively plausible condition is at best highly questionable. Unless the world is in fact underpopulated, the social disvalue of a premature death is likely to be significantly lower than the current estimates.
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