By: Peter Singer
April 1, 2011
How many Afghan lives are worth one British life?
We shrink at that question. If forced to answer, some reply: “All human life is of infinite value.” Others cite the Jewish teaching that if you put one human life on one side of a scale, and the rest of the world on the other side, the scale is balanced equally. Most just say that an Afghan life is worth the same as a British life, because all human lives are of equal value. Isn’t that what we all believe?
The Ministry of Defence has been paying compensation to Afghans for accidentally killing their children, their brothers and sisters, or their parents, during the fighting in Afghanistan. Thanks to a freedom of information request from the Guardian, we know how much the MoD has paid families when a member has been killed. Here are some examples: daughter hit by shrapnel from air-strike and later died of injuries, $1,000; mother killed during bombing, $5,000; two brothers and two sons killed by hellfire missile strike, $32,000. The variation in the figures is not explained, but in no case was more than $8,000 (about £5,000), paid for the loss of a single life. (more…)