What is the value of a life? And can a price be put on it? Both economists and economists have studied the question on whether certain things can or cannot be for sale for centuries.

In a recent editorial, The Guardian again revisited this debate, writing that “markets desacralise. But in doing so they miss what gives life meaning.“. They conclude with asserting that “for the largely post-Christian societies of western Europe and North America, it may be difficult to discover a concept of sanctity without dogma. But there must be some value to life that can’t be measured in money, or even numbers – or else the lives thought valueless will be treated that way.”

You can find their full editorial here.

In a response, Capx wrote an extensive answer on this idea, arguing that “in standard economics, th[ings] get their value from people’s preferences, not from anything inherent to them. Similarly, the value of beauty and mystery are determined by what people are willing to pay for them. A beautiful house, for example, is more valuable than an ugly one because people are willing to pay more for it. A mysterious house, by contrast, would probably trade at a discount.”

You can find their response here.

On our bookshelf, we have various books also debating these issues, check them out here.

What do you think? Let us know, by contacting us or contributing an essay on this topic!