WASHINGTON, July 25, 2022 /PRNewswire/ — Have you ever wondered how much your life is worth? Economists have. And depending on where you were born the results might disturb you. The life of an American is valued at anywhere between $7 million and $10 million, but the life of a Liberian is worth only around $65,000. This means that, according to economists, it is more beneficial to the world to save the life of one American than to save the lives of 100 Liberians.
This paradox and more are the subject of the new book on the value of a life from Carneades: Are All Lives Equal? Why Cost-Benefit Analysis Values Rich Lives More and How Philosophy Can Fix it. The book explores the economic reasoning that leads to this unsettling conclusion, investigates several previous failed responses from philosophers and economists, and offers a new solution that would make economic cost-benefit analysis both more just and more accurate.
The book explores the economic practices of cost-benefit analysis and the valuation of a statistical life through engaging anecdotes and dozens of stunning graphics. It clearly walks through the process that leads to a useful and important tool for assessing government policies valuing the lives and preferences of the rich more than the poor. Carneades clears away the technical jargon and explains these tools in an intuitive and accessible way.
Beyond merely explaining the economic rationale behind these tools, Carneades puts the economics literature in conversation with the centuries of philosophical tradition which argues that all lives are equal. With over 40 new thought experiments, the book makes these philosophical ideas relatable and grounded in reality. With a deep background in philosophy and development economics, Carneades is uniquely positioned to showcase these contradictions and provide a way forward that satisfies the needs of both fields of study.
The book threads the needle between these two acrimonious disciplines, appreciating that cost-benefit analysis is an important tool that should not be discarded, while acknowledging that any tool that values one wealthy life as equal to hundreds of poor lives life needs to be recalibrated. The book is available from Amazon for $29.99.
Carneades is a philosopher and international development practitioner with over a decade of experience in international development and public policy working with the Gates Foundation, the World Bank, and multiple U.S. Government development agencies. Carneades is also a YouTube Philosopher with a catalog of over 1,000 educational philosophy videos, 100,000 subscribers and 10,000,000 views.
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