Has any philosopher, ever, claimed that the life of some people is of no value whatsoever?


Has any philosopher, ever, claimed that the life of some people is of no value whatsoever?

Not just that someone is e.g. dangerous, but some people can have no moral claim whatsoever to life?

Conversely, has anyone claimed that human life does not have a universal equivalent, by which I just mean a means to measure out the value of any and all human life?


Posted 2016-04-18T02:55:50.057


Are people limited to members of the species Homo sapiens? Do you consider hypothetical non human intelligent beings such as intelligent computers and intelligent extraterrestrials to be people? Research into the intelligence of nonhuman animals on Earth shows there are many species, such as apes, proboscideans, and cetaceans, whose intelligence is roughly equivalent to that of humans. Since there seems to be a strong probability that such species, like Homo sapiens, should be classified as semi intelligent or even fully intelligent, there is a strong probability that they, like *Homo sapi – M.A. Golding – 2016-05-06T17:47:48.893

"The unexamined life is not worth leading?" – None – 2019-03-14T13:45:23.460

To the second question: Plato definitely put different values on the lives of the different kinds of men in The Republic, because he affords equal value as a whole to a small group (the ruling class) and to a much larger group (workers). That means the loss of one of the smaller group properly matters more to the city. The notion of equal value comes rather late. When warfare was continual and slavery was common, it would be very hard to consider your foes' lives, or your slaves' lives equal to your own, and philosophers made excuses for these decisions. – None – 2019-03-14T13:52:50.300

by "null value" do you mean "no value" or do you mean "null" in the way it is used in programming and databases? – virmaior – 2016-04-18T02:57:24.013

i just no value i think, i don't program ! – None – 2016-04-18T02:58:02.710

@virmaior is that ok, the two questions like that ? – None – 2016-04-18T03:17:16.220

I can think of philosophers that saw no issues with having a separate class of people as basically valuable only as intelligent beasts-of-burden... is that what you're looking for? – James Kingsbery – 2016-04-18T04:50:45.843

hi @JamesKingsbery i probably meant something a little different, maybe more objectionable, that the life of a slave is worthless. maybe these philosophers as relativists? – None – 2016-04-18T06:02:35.077

2'Theres no scientific consensus that life is important!' - Futurama – NationWidePants – 2016-04-18T12:08:44.313

@NationWidePants good answer xD – None – 2016-04-18T14:45:54.663

Do you mean philosophers that are moral Nihilists or do you mean a more concrete separation of one people/race/gender/species from another? – NationWidePants – 2016-04-18T14:58:45.003

i mean about one group yes – None – 2016-04-18T15:02:34.557


Probably not what you're looking for, but the philosophical position of antinatalism assigns negative value to life and birth in general. Otherwise, a list of e.g. eugenics or nazi ideologues may be a good place to start.

– w128 – 2016-04-18T18:17:16.670



I would say that Mein Kampf is the strongest example I know of that speaks directly to the question you've asked. He speaks to the purity of the aryan race and degrades other races as inferior.

Another good example would be Joseph Stalin (moral nihilist).

Mao Tse-tung's red book is another example that presents national superiority.


Posted 2016-04-18T02:55:50.057

Reputation: 861

dwai @jobermark it was a quirk – None – 2019-03-14T00:43:42.860

5But are politicians philosophers? – None – 2016-04-18T17:57:03.190

Are they not philosophers because they apply a practical application to philosophy instead of discourse on rhetoric? That describes a Platonic Sophist, not a philosopher. Your very comment, therefore, also falls into sophistry and not philosophy by the same definition and is not constructive. – NationWidePants – 2016-04-20T14:13:19.753

1Those guys were not philosophers. Not because they were politicians, but simply because they didn't do philosophy. Having an opinion (even expressed in the form of a book) doesn't make you a philosopher. – Eliran – 2016-05-06T20:08:08.280

1@EliranH I would go even further and say that even if the books were philosophy, that doesn't make the authors philosophers. You don't have to be a professional philosopher to be a philosopher, but you do have to be a philosopher. – Era – 2016-05-06T20:34:00.103