How much is a good night’s sleep worth?

February 8, 2008

So, I was sounded out for a job today, which – according to the ad – was perfect for me: needed strong maths qualifications, ability to do complex analysis and design algorithms, based in Cambridge, couldn’t ask for a nicer spec.

Unfortunately, it’s to design sensors for radar and would involve acquiring security clearance so I could work on UK defence projects. Leaving aside the question of whether they’d grant a hippy like me such a thing, the idea of working for the military seems utterly abhorrent to me.

But – I think it was Tom Stoppard said – every man has his price. I was wondering how much they’d have to pay me to force me to consider taking the job. I know I’d turn down £30,000/yr. But if they offered me £60k? I hope I’d still say no, but I’d have to think about it. Even though £60k is unlikely, what if they offered me £100,000 a year? That’s serious money, probably five times what I need to live on, and would likely set me up for life. Could I live with something I helped design being used for military purposes? Could I sleep at night? If there are moral philosophers around, let me know what you think.

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2 Responses to “How much is a good night’s sleep worth?”

  1. Sophie Says:

    I just thought I’d do a little ‘name drop’ and mention the movie Mindwalk, because the scientist in that movie had the exact same question and her philosophical insight was quite interesting. The movie isn’t action packed, and that is an understatement. But its quite rather brilliant in its conversation. 🙂

  2. kensson Says:

    Thanks, Sophie! I’ll see if I can find it.


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