Why is human life more important than animal life?



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PunkyKat
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21 Apr 2010, 12:57 am

A concept I will never understand. I remember watching animals on TV be killed because they eventualy lost it and attacked their abusive owners and the police would kill it and I would ask why they had to do that and I was told "a human life is more important than an animals". When I tell how I think animal testing and vivesection is wrong in any form I am told it is okay because it is helping people and that human life is more important. Why? Humans are the most selfish, greedy and destructive creatures. I love my bearded dragon more than anything and would defend her to the death if I had too. I would save her before I was to save a person, even a family member. Why are humans oh so important? When I asked that I usualy got a religious answer about humans were created in God's image and they have "dominion" over the animals. I never bought that and it just adds another reason to the list of why I dislike most Christians.

My mum used to say my autism is the reason I felt this way.



Awesomelyglorious
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21 Apr 2010, 1:42 am

It pretty much must be autism.

Most people value other people more than animals, and they do so on the basis of seeing these other humans as having greater kinship with them than the animals. In fact, most animals are similar in this regard.

Here's how it breaks down:
1) Humans have greater economic value as they are one of the few creatures so useful in productive processes.
2) Humans are within the tribes of humans more than animals are, and so we feel more bonded to them because this bond is the basis of society.
3) Humans have deeper relationships to other humans in general simply due to the commonality.
4) Humans, as a species, would be relatively unsuccessful if they didn't value their lives and the lives of those like themselves.

As for the issue of humans vs animals, let me put the question to you:
What constitutes the basis of your valuation of animal lives? If you were between a dog and a lizard, how would you choose? If you were between a spider and a chimp, how would you choose?

Additionally, your reason " Humans are the most selfish, greedy and destructive creatures." is blatantly wrong. Humans are not the most selfish creatures because we actually have these conversations about valuing other species for intrinsic reasons. Do other creatures do this? No! They kill, eat, and mate. Tigers don't consider vegetarianism. Rabbits in Australia care nothing about the native wildlife. This is even quite frankly an obvious fact. As for greedy? Greed should just be treated as a subset of "selfish", and we're just successful. Let's frame the issue this way: in order for creatures to survive, they have to be the best at getting food, and producing viable offspring. Why do you think that the human way of evolutionary success is greedier and more selfish than that of every other creature whose existence is contingent on the very same goals?

I won't contest destructiveness though, but I don't see this as relevant. Other creatures are only limited by their failure to reach this level of ability, not by the fact that they care so much more about the environment. They don't, they'd have no reason to be instilled with such a tendency. If they're existence is only contingent upon their ability to get food and breed, and their power over the environment is ridiculously small, then there will be no real reason for them to have a real tendency to restrain themselves when their feeding and breeding goals are just at the tips of their fingertips, just as it is with mankind's case.

EDIT: Yeah, I might seem rather aggressive and vicious in this, so I apologize. I just have very limited kindness towards the "I love animals"/"I love the environment" position in many cases because it is idealistic and fundamentally wrong in its view of things I think.



you_are_what_you_is
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21 Apr 2010, 1:47 am

I disagree with this: Humans are the most selfish, greedy and destructive creatures. I also disagree with the implicit premise that being selfish, greedy and destructive makes you less important than something that isn't.

Humans are not necessarily more important than sentient non-human animals. There are some traits we have that distinguish us from most other animals, such as the fact that we know we're alive and we want to avoid dying. That's one reason why, most of the time, killing an average human is worse than killing a non-human animal. Of course, not all humans possess this knowledge or desire, and accordingly, I would say that killing them isn't as bad (for example, it's as bad, if not worse, to murder an adult chimp as it is to murder a very young human infant). Simply being a member of the species homo sapiens does not entitle you to any special consideration, in my view.



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21 Apr 2010, 2:05 am

it is humans who have the sole ethical responsibility to be as decent as they can be, to ALL the earth's other creatures. but humans to this day are falling down on the job, so-to-speak. to this day, humans are also enslaving other humans in manifold ways, and abusing their subordinates as well as each other in ways great and small.
but one should try to remember that there also are many people who are trying to be good sorts, in numbers increasing greater than general population growth. so there is progress happening, but it is mostly obscured by "if it bleeds, it leads" media reporting. it is time to reduce one's enthrallment with evil and to increase one's attention to [and appreciation of] the legions of decent, caring people who are putting their hearts and/or enlightened self-interest out there in service of improving this thumpin' bumpin' world.
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Avarice
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21 Apr 2010, 2:27 am

It isn't.

I think it's the Autism that makes us feel this way, because we don't relate to other people well and find animals to be much nicer to have around. I don't see why people think human life is so important.



you_are_what_you_is
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21 Apr 2010, 2:37 am

Avarice wrote:
I think it's the Autism that makes us feel this way, because we don't relate to other people well and find animals to be much nicer to have around.


I certainly don't find non-human animals nicer to be around. I not keen on being around humans most of the time, either, but I do like us a lot in general.



PLA
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21 Apr 2010, 2:52 am

Awesomelyglorious wrote:
It pretty much must be autism.

Most people value other people more than animals, and they do so on the basis of seeing these other humans as having greater kinship with them than the animals. In fact, most animals are similar in this regard.

Here's how it breaks down:
1) Humans have greater economic value as they are one of the few creatures so useful in productive processes.
2) Humans are within the tribes of humans more than animals are, and so we feel more bonded to them because this bond is the basis of society.
3) Humans have deeper relationships to other humans in general simply due to the commonality.
4) Humans, as a species, would be relatively unsuccessful if they didn't value their lives and the lives of those like themselves.

As for the issue of humans vs animals, let me put the question to you:
What constitutes the basis of your valuation of animal lives? If you were between a dog and a lizard, how would you choose? If you were between a spider and a chimp, how would you choose?

Additionally, your reason " Humans are the most selfish, greedy and destructive creatures." is blatantly wrong. Humans are not the most selfish creatures because we actually have these conversations about valuing other species for intrinsic reasons. Do other creatures do this? No! They kill, eat, and mate. Tigers don't consider vegetarianism. Rabbits in Australia care nothing about the native wildlife. This is even quite frankly an obvious fact. As for greedy? Greed should just be treated as a subset of "selfish", and we're just successful. Let's frame the issue this way: in order for creatures to survive, they have to be the best at getting food, and producing viable offspring. Why do you think that the human way of evolutionary success is greedier and more selfish than that of every other creature whose existence is contingent on the very same goals?

I won't contest destructiveness though, but I don't see this as relevant. Other creatures are only limited by their failure to reach this level of ability, not by the fact that they care so much more about the environment. They don't, they'd have no reason to be instilled with such a tendency. If they're existence is only contingent upon their ability to get food and breed, and their power over the environment is ridiculously small, then there will be no real reason for them to have a real tendency to restrain themselves when their feeding and breeding goals are just at the tips of their fingertips, just as it is with mankind's case.

EDIT: Yeah, I might seem rather aggressive and vicious in this, so I apologize. I just have very limited kindness towards the "I love animals"/"I love the environment" position in many cases because it is idealistic and fundamentally wrong in its view of things I think.


This is pretty much where I stand in those issues as well. "Animals don't make war" is simply not true.
On the other hand, "importance" is an unattractive topic for me, since importance is attributed by the observer and its value-premises.


Edit:
you_are_what_you_is wrote:
I disagree with this: Humans are the most selfish, greedy and destructive creatures. I also disagree with the implicit premise that being selfish, greedy and destructive makes you less important than something that isn't.

Humans are not necessarily more important than sentient non-human animals. There are some traits we have that distinguish us from most other animals, such as the fact that we know we're alive and we want to avoid dying. That's one reason why, most of the time, killing an average human is worse than killing a non-human animal. Of course, not all humans possess this knowledge or desire, and accordingly, I would say that killing them isn't as bad (for example, it's as bad, if not worse, to murder an adult chimp as it is to murder a very young human infant). Simply being a member of the species homo sapiens does not entitle you to any special consideration, in my view.

This is also fairly agreeable. But I'm sleepy.


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JayHun
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21 Apr 2010, 3:53 am

Religious claims aside, most people value human life over animal life due to the superior intellect of humans. Many people use this hierarchy of intelligence to rationalize the routine killing and abuse of animals, as well as the subordination of fellow humans who have a lower IQ.

Differences in intellect are intrinsically unfair, and the results of those differences are often tragic.

In my opinion, intelligence must be given weight. That is to say, the needs of humans must be met over the needs of animals. My reasoning is that our intellect gives us the ability to help ourselves and others, and the power of the human mind is the best shot we have of fixing this mess of a planet. We can't even fulfill the needs of all humans, much less animals.

Anyway, it's not likely to change anytime soon, barring some kind of genetic breakthrough that allows us to modify our brains. At that point, we can and should give animals brains to match ours.

Let's give them thumbs, too.



you_are_what_you_is
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21 Apr 2010, 4:33 am

JayHun wrote:
Anyway, it's not likely to change anytime soon, barring some kind of genetic breakthrough that allows us to modify our brains. At that point, we can and should give animals brains to match ours.


Given the amount of suffering many animals experience as a result of meat, fur, and other such industries, I think it would be far more ethical to breed ones that don't have brains. Things that aren't conscious in the first place can't suffer.



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21 Apr 2010, 5:16 am

you_are_what_you_is wrote:
JayHun wrote:
Anyway, it's not likely to change anytime soon, barring some kind of genetic breakthrough that allows us to modify our brains. At that point, we can and should give animals brains to match ours.


Given the amount of suffering many animals experience as a result of meat, fur, and other such industries, I think it would be far more ethical to breed ones that don't have brains. Things that aren't conscious in the first place can't suffer.


Brains are not doodads like fur color or other minor characteristics. A cow without brains wouldn't know how to walk or eat or sneeze. What you mean to recommend is that stuff like muscle tissue should be grown without an entire animal. Some people are working on that. See http://www.wired.com/science/discoverie ... vitro_meat

Of course thousands or perhaps millions of little animals are given horrible diseases and injuries by industry seeking cures. I don't know how to get rid of that.



you_are_what_you_is
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21 Apr 2010, 6:02 am

Sand wrote:
Brains are not doodads like fur color or other minor characteristics. A cow without brains wouldn't know how to walk or eat or sneeze. What you mean to recommend is that stuff like muscle tissue should be grown without an entire animal. Some people are working on that. See http://www.wired.com/science/discoverie ... vitro_meat


I know that. I'm not talking about how things actually are, though. We also can't give non-human animals human brains, which is the suggestion I was responding to.

In any case, ethically speaking, there's no difference between a non-sentient animal that can walk and eat and sneeze, and a non-sentient piece of muscle tissue.



Sand
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21 Apr 2010, 6:47 am

you_are_what_you_is wrote:
Sand wrote:
Brains are not doodads like fur color or other minor characteristics. A cow without brains wouldn't know how to walk or eat or sneeze. What you mean to recommend is that stuff like muscle tissue should be grown without an entire animal. Some people are working on that. See http://www.wired.com/science/discoverie ... vitro_meat


I know that. I'm not talking about how things actually are, though. We also can't give non-human animals human brains, which is the suggestion I was responding to.

In any case, ethically speaking, there's no difference between a non-sentient animal that can walk and eat and sneeze, and a non-sentient piece of muscle tissue.


Somehow I feel more confident about non-sentience in muscle tissue than in a mobile living creature.



Lene
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21 Apr 2010, 6:55 am

Only to humans. Unfortunately, we're the ones in charge.



ruveyn
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21 Apr 2010, 9:57 am

Lene wrote:
Only to humans. Unfortunately, we're the ones in charge.


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Jacoby
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21 Apr 2010, 11:41 am

I suppose humans value human life more than animals because we are human. I don't even how much we value human life honestly.



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