Are Animals Equal to Humans?
This question has come up in two recent debates. I think it should be debated seperately.
Keep it clean (note to self), and please explain why or why nots.
Please no repeat arguements or simple statments. I want to keep this as a quality over quanitity debate.
So keep out bitch ass spammers. Thank you.
Side Score: 105
Side Score: 104
I'm sure I'll be the only person on this side, but yes, I believe that all animals are equal. Why? It's simple.
All animals feel pain and emotions. While one can argue that humans are superior because of their heightened level of intellect, I find this argument flawed for two reasons.
1. Human intellect is only considered impressive as compared to other animals because our ability to logic and/or reason is something that we value. However, a dog may place greater value in a heightened sense of smell/hearing. What we consider to be a favourable trait is only relatively favourable. Non-humans possibly consider humans to be absolutely absurd, idiotic animals with no natural physical ability to defend themselves, their young, or their mates.
2. Severely mentally retarded humans and infants/children do not have the intellect that "normal" adult humans have. (I use the term "normal" loosely.) Thus, for the "human logic makes us better than non-humans" argument, these certain human individuals would have to be placed at the same level as non-humans.
I am a vegan, I am an abolitionist, I am making all efforts to not be a speciesist. This is who I am, this is what I believe, and this is why. :)
1. The ability to "value" implies an ability to comprehend the importance of certain traits in your life. The dog is aware that they can smell, but you cannot confirm that they understand the "importance" of being able to smell. You cannot possibly know if animals have the ability to "value" their heightened senses.
Moreover, the ability to "judge" other beings, is only found in the human race. Your argument about what non-humans may consider humans to be, is flawed, because non-humans are incapable of "consideration".
2. Infants and children are only temporarily incapable of higher intellect. During this transitional period, we do NOT give them equal rights as every body else. They cannot vote, they cannot drive, they cannot drink etc. So they are not really equal to other human beings. We do not eat them, because they are only temporarily at a level of reduced intellect, because it goes against evolution, and because cannibalism is socially unacceptable.
Mentally retarded humans are also not equal to other human beings because we do not allow them to vote or work. Pregnancies are also terminated if a screening indicates such a problem. So they are not "equal" human beings. Nature also indicates that animals also don't regard disabled offspring as "equal", because we know a lot of animals that eat their disabled offspring. But humans don't do that because cannibalism in our society is extremely unacceptable and a huge taboo. In ancient societies however, mentally retarded and disabled children were thrown in the fiery pit. So they were never "equal" to other humans.
1. The fact that you cannot confirm that they understand the "importance" of being able to smell negates your later argument that non-humans are incapable of "consideration." You don't know that they're incapable. It's entirely possible that they may be, even if their capabilities aren't in the same form as human capabilities. You cannot possibly judge any non-humans (this applies to non-human animals, to possible aliens, if you believe that stuff, to anything) by the standards of humans. A different sort of consciousness is still consciousness.
You argue that only humans have the ability to judge, and yet later state that non-humans judge their offspring/peers (which they do) because of defects. If they can determine which among them are weaker, it's fit to assume that they can judge other species, as well, as being foreign/weaker.
2. While infants and the mentally retarded may not be considered equal to fully-functioning human adults, they are certainly not considered on the level of non-humans, which is essentially what their mindset is like (if that's how you believe non-human mindsets are).
"All animals feel pain and emotions."
is this a statement of fact or an opinion based on your own emotion?
Does a worm feel pain? what sort of emotions does it have.
how about a spider?
i suggest that you have made a generalization and argument from ignorance.
you cant establish that all animals feel pain & certainly cant establish that all have emotions.
often watching dear taken by a lion i am struck by the lack of emotion...no crying, no calling out for help. They struggle to survive but dont express emotion that we can see.
"Non-humans possibly consider humans to be absolutely absurd, idiotic animals with no natural physical ability to defend themselves, their young, or their mates."
it is unlikely that animals have self awareness let alone the ability to make considered opinions about the construction of other animals physical make up.
"human logic makes us better than non-humans...these certain human individuals would have to be placed at the same level as non-humans."
That was the argument of Hitler and the nazi's, they exterminated the handicapped based on the evolutionary argument. However because humans are superior to the animals in intellect it is for this reason we can see that some of our own species are struggling and we can exercize compassion and support them thru their struggles. The animal kingdom would simply leave them behind to die.
Here in lies a huge difference between the animals and humans....our ability to care & nurture for the weak and handicapped. our ability to empathize and place ourselves in the position of other eg 'there but for the grace of God go i' is entirely different to any other animal.
Being one who is not old enough to drive(or, rather, decide not to), I still am subjected to being dragged around in a car. There, on that hideous, forsaken highway I look in sadness upon those who have fallen, murdered by giant metal monsters. I wish for these most disguisting creations to be destroyed, for they bring to the world's table a small amount of convienence for our own kind, while to them it brings nothing but death. beliveyoume, I agree with your arguement ,and am here to tell you that you are far from alone. I ,at 13, strive to be as friendly to the enviroment as is possible in the U.S., but, being the black sheep of my family, I, for now, must run this race to save our beloved bretheren on my own. I am an animal rights activist, a vegetarian to the best of my ability, and a radical. Add that to the fact I'm proud of it all.
@believeyoume, you are thankfully not the only person on that side, I agree with you on all your points and they are the most important points one can make on the pro-animal side of the subject. Succintly, you have made the clearest case for improving animals rights to the level of ours (physical and mental feelings) and by implication, this requires revolutionizing our dominating relationship with animals and changing our whole consumption-based and industrialised approach to advanced animals. ( As a ready reckoner, any vertebrate is an advanced animal and as for invertebrates, one can argue about it but certainly with vertebrates, it is unquestionable).
I agree that animals feel pain and emotions (although maybe only to a certain degree- we don't know), and also the human species' outstanding intellect does not necessarily make us better. However, I have another point you didn't mention, the reason I disagree with your side on the debate. I feel that morally, humans should be valued over animals.
If you were forced to kill a bug or a human (it could be someone you have no connection to), do you think that the options are equally horrible? Or is the latter much worse?
Also- does it make me a speciesist to value some animals over others, and is that a bad thing? For example, I might value some animals, such as apes or dogs, over pests like mice, mosquitos, or ants.
Well, the thing is this: People never really think about it this way, but humans are animals as well. We are mammals, we produce offspring, we need oxygen, we need food and water, we feel emotion, we have instincts, we have a whole slew of things that relates us to animals. See, when people think about 'equality'...it's a very vague subject in terms of humans and other animals. If we're going by intelligence, then there's no question about it, humans far surpass the intellect of other creatures, but if we're talking about physical strength and/or ability to survive in the wilderness, then I believe other animals would beat out humans at every corner. I think that if us humans didn't have guns, it would even the odds quite a bit, and the difference would not be so astronomical.
I don't think that humans are superior to other animals, because when we talk about superiority, I think that we're talking about all of the aspects that I've just touched on. If we were to combine intelligence, physical strength, physical ability, and any other subsets of those three categories, I think that humans would not come in equal place next to other beings, but perhaps lower on the totem pole. Because in the end, it all boils down to who is physically stronger, and who has more power. The being with more power will be the victor, and will rule all. If the humans did not have guns, even with their superior intelligence, they would be killed immediately.
Again very simplistic arguments for the equality of all animals with humans.
To even begin this argument you would have to determine what was meant by 'equal'.
mathematically it has a meaning and that differs if we are talking from a physiological or mental point of view. It would be impossible to say two humans were 'equal' from virtually any of these perspectives.
To rebut your points "but if we're talking about physical strength and/or ability to survive in the wilderness, then I believe other animals would beat out humans at every corner."
what proof would you offer of this?
Humans have proven themselves to be a superior species in terms of survival. Many creatures have become extinct whilst humans continue to flourish 6.8 billion and growing. Not only did humans start off in the wild, but they conquered it comprehensively. They were able to defend themselves from predators by hiding, avoiding, barricading, fashioning weapons to protect, hunt & kill for skins & food. Humans completely dominated the animal kingdom. Their ability to create weapons to protect and kill set them apart from the animals who remain static in their abilities. They neither gather knowledge nor pass it on to the next generation. Each generation of animals gains the basic survival guidelines from their parents...there is no capacity for anything else.
"The being with more power will be the victor, and will rule all." yes that is humans.
"If the humans did not have guns, even with their superior intelligence, they would be killed immediately."
completely and utterly dis-proven.
If you look at how the whole universe developed, it is clear that all living things are just a chemical reaction that really got out of control. Because the chance was there, chemical and physical processes developed into what we call life. So basically we are all the same. Why should there be a different "value" based on size, brains etc and who could define this difference as there is no objective observer (assuming that there is no creature with a beard watching us from above)? Yes an ant is equal to me.
And for people who say no: what if 50 years ago, someone posted a similar question here about black people being equal to white people? Nowadays most will say: "sure, they are equal", but not 50 years ago. So maybe in 50 more years, people will realize that animals are equal to humans.
"it is clear that all living things are just a chemical reaction that really got out of control."
simplistic and unsubstantiated. It may be accepted by scientists but there is no method of chemical evolution that has proven to be able to reproduce life.
"So basically we are all the same."
It is hard to argue logically with someone who believes that a worm and a human are basically the same.
"Why should there be a different "value" based on size, brains etc"
why should there be any value on life let alone equal value? A chemical reaction has no 'value' whatever that means to you?
"Yes an ant is equal to me."
So squashing you should not bother anyones conscience? i sprayed about 20k of them yesterday. i shall poison you without a second thought.
"what if 50 years ago, someone posted a similar question here about black people being equal to white people? "
50 years ago prior to DNA discoveries, evolutionary theory taught that man evolved from apes. naturally there must be intermediate creatures between the ape and man. if you observe the natural world then do Australian Aboriginals look more like apes than white men? Yes, that was the scientific observation of guys like Darwin. Basically he had no idea what he was talking about. Aboriginals were hunted down for a fee & sold to museums as specimens.
If you believe you are equal to an ant and presumably a tree since they all came from the same out of control chemical reaction then please explain how this belief is wrong?
If you argue that all life is precious / sacred & should not be 'killed' then what will you eat?
bear in mind the apple or any other fruit is equal to you.
Let's take this to a new level. I will start by stating animals should not be eaten and deserve equal rights. Anyway, Let's say us humans have a small(hideously large) debt to pay to our beloved borthers and sisters of earth. After all that we have done to them(i.e. death, drowning, killing for fun), it should be our duty as the wrong doers to pay them back for our misconducts by treating them more humanely and cease this shedding of blood. As we have similar ancestors, we are therefore equal to those who we have shared a historic path with for eons.
Animals are equal to humans
The objective of this speech is to persuade you that animals are equal to humans and that we do not place a higher value than animals.
Judging an animal because we don’t understand it is not fair. If the animal could speak to us would you keep it in your home like a pet or would you cruelly abuse it? People in the modern world are against slaves but keeping an animal is like having a slave- except that they don’t do any of your work. Slaves were owned by a master and restricted from privileges that they could have had if they were free, animals are the same. A century or so ago, if you asked a white man if he thought blacks were equal he would most probably have said no, but nowadays they are thought equal, so all animals need is a spokesperson for them like the blacks had. But humans think they know best.
Another reason that supports my argument is that just because animals don’t have brains as highly developed as ours doesn’t make them more important. In that sense one could argue that animals are more practical than us in a physical sense, because animals can live life without any of the luxuries we have. They can protect themselves without use of external defences and they can rely on their senses to help them find food. If human beings use up all of our resources and we are stripped of things like lit houses or radiators, or even cars we will not be able to survive but an animal can. In a test of practicality the animal will always come first. But humans think they know best. Also if animals are judged lower than us because they are not as clever then that means that a lot of humans should be ranked lower, because they have less sense than an animal. A person, with the intellect of a 2 year old, who does nothing but sit on a couch and stuff his face all day, is esteemed higher than a dog who has more sense and can actually do something with his life. But humans think they know best.
Another thing to think about is that humans kill hundreds of animals every day sometimes to eat them or sometimes for other parts of their body, but if an animal harms, lightly or even severely that animal is immediately shot down. What makes it right for animals to be slaughtered by humans and the human to get away with it, but an animal killed if it harms a human? But humans think they know best. People would argue that humans need to eat, but tigers and crocodiles need to eat too. Why can’t humans be eaten by animals? But humans know best. Cannibalism is thought to be wrong but people do it every day with animals. It could be argued that cannibalism is when one species eat another member of their species, but humans are animals too. Despite that many people do not like to refer to each other that way, it is true that we are also mammals. But humans think they know best.
Animals are also considered to be emotionless, this however is not true. Scientists have proven that animals do experience simple emotions like anger, pain and happiness. But more complicated emotions are difficult to understand because animals are different to us and show things in another way. So if scientists can’t even make out expressions displayed by the animal, how can they assume what goes on in their heads. Scientist claim that animals are not sentient which means they are not aware of their existence but that may not be true because scientist have no definite way of proving that. But humans think they know best.
To conclude my speech animals should be equal to humans because we do not have any traits that make us better than an animal. If we are cleverer then animals are more naturally equipped and have stronger senses which help them survive. Animals do have feelings and it isn’t just to treat them like dirt because they cannot communicate clearly with us, even though humans think they know best.
ok, so first of all, we have no reason to believe we ar superior, the reason we think we are is due to instincts, part of human nature is wanting to be the best, their is nothing to prove we are in anyway worth more, that is because we have screwed up the only argument that would work, we say that all humans are equal no matter how intelligent, but then we tryed to say that we are better than animals because of our high intelligence. and then theres always the bible people try to use to justify the slaughter of animals which is ridiculous, but im not going to criticise the bible. now i realize that in the wild animals kill eachother, but we kill the animals too, and thats another thing we couldve used to put ourselves above animals, but weve been slaughtering animals since we came into existence, and at least animals dont kill eachother and call it a SPORT! that just makes me sick. and its actually pretty unfair to call animals dumb when we still dont understand everything about their brains,
not long ago we thought that a black person was property, soon animals will be treated as people too, look up koko the gorilla, theres other apes like her but idk their names. im a christian by the way, so take that!
yeah koko the gorilla is completely fluent in asl(american sign language) and has proper conversations with her trainer. she got a kitten for her birthdaw and when it was hit by a car she howled in grief for weeks over a kitten which many humans would have had and "Oh Well" kind of attitude towards. When her trainer asked her about what happened to her kitten, Ball she said "cat sleep" showing that she understood complicated issues like death and could even pass her own judgement on such topics.
i believe that animals are definately equal to humans as they are fully capeable of the same emotions as us and, if anthing they are above us as they are better than us.eg people cause pollution, global warming ect. does any other species procecute people for phat they believe, for what they look like?How many other species kill for plesure? aprt from hamsters none.people ask weather id save a baby or a dog. id save the do as there are far too many people on the planet. i almost died trying to save my dog from getting hit by a car and i would gladly die if it would bring her back.we are an evil species who twists things to suit ourselves.if a dog bits a child the dog dies- nobody bothers to check if it had a valid reason for attacking.wheras if a child were to purpously kill a dog we wouldnt kill the child, merely punish it. what gives us the right to play god? weve all got to just deflate our heads a bit and relise that were all in the same boat, us and the other animals (trying to get through life comrotably) and that we should educate people that animals are equal. i apreciate that many people view the killing og a dog worse than the killijng of an insect but how different are they really? they both are alive and because of that precious. it digusts me that people have to pretend that there bigger and berrer than other species to feel good about themselves.
If by equal you mean both are living things that other living things should respect, then yes.
I feel that I need justification in killing. If I wash my hands, it is not because I desire to kill microbes because they are small or easy to kill. I just want to be healthy and clean.
I do not kill insects or spiders in my house, I will let them outside, despite my fear.
If I eat something, it is because I need food. Plant or animal, both are living things that I must respect.
If I do not respect the earth, the earth that is made of matter and energy, the same chemicals that I am made of, then what am I?
Am I worth anything? If I treat all life as if it was something precious, then that means I am precious as well in my eyes, and I can love myself.
If I treat the earth and the life on it as if I was the ruler of it, as if I was some grand king, able to kill whatever I desired, squashing bugs for fun, polluting by throwing trash out the window, driving a car that wastes gas and pollutes more than I need to, if I don't respect nature, then what am I?
I evolved from a simple life form.
I must not forget my ancestors. I cannot forget how they died. How they fought and clung to life no matter what.
Even if a small microbe was my ancestor, I cannot forget it's struggle just because it was mindless or smaller than me.
It was still a living thing, and I will not forget my ancestors.
Each cell in me is an individual, united into one, which is me.
Each can live on its own, if separated and put into a petri-dish with nutrients.
I honor animals, plants and the universe equally. I am part of that.
Darwin. Those who answered "No" to this question, could "rightly" use what Darwin discovered about species. The fact is that Evolutionism lack of reason. Let's try to put it down easily: it all started in the same point; the Earth appeared, microbes and the animals started to evolve in order to better adapt to the environment, which was and is still changing. "Only the fittest survive" says evolutionism. Then it came the Man, a rough version of a man we could meet today on the street: why? Because he was still tied up to the Nature, he was still a part of it. He lacked of intelligence, we could say, but he didnt care. He had to live. How? What to eat? He farmed and hunted. Yes he did. Vegeterians who state that is not true that Man has always hunted, or eaten meat, just accept the truth. We did. We did because we had to. Man, one among the other species, the weakest, if we think at his height and of what he was, in reality, able to do: he had no fangs, claws to defend with. He started separating from Nature, right building up tools to defend from it (such as shelters, dwellings). Then he evolved trhoughout centuries. Here we are, selfish, pretending to be Gods on earth, thinking so foolishly to have by right the power to kill others: animals or men, it doesnt make any difference. Now you could rightly ask me what is the point? The point is that differently from the possibilities we had when we were just separating from nature, and differently from what Darwin's theory states, now we have the power to chose what it is better for us, without damaging unwisely the environment and animals (our cousins). We can live in another way. We can really eat animals only when it is necessary to do so. Never forget what Natives did when they killed buffalos: they thanked the earth, the spirits they believed in, for giving them food. Unfortunately the market, the real God on earth, made its way up to our hearts. It corrupted us. How many supermarkets, fast-food, ensure their own subsistence on the fact that they can easily and quickly obtain enormous quantity of animals, such as chickens, than a drop of a hat? Those animals dont live, we aint permit them to. We breed them as we could "breed" a motorcycle: we use it, over and over, and when it stops working, we throw it, we "kill" it. We got a perverted way to look at the world. Mainly because we've got a perverted way to look at ourselves, firstly. If i had to answer honestly, i would say that it is impossible for us to really respect animals, as they would deserve. We cannot even respect ourselves, imagine if we could do it with animals.
This earth was formed and then life began. All kinds of life. Plants, insects, birds, mammals, reptiles, and so on... We can agree with that part, I am pretty sure.
Evolution of the species occurred and certain species obtained dominant mentalities. Humans for one, decided they wanted, they desired, they needed. So they took what they wanted.
At first they hurt other beings feelings, and those hurt beings dared to share their unhappiness. They displayed their unhappiness and did their best to display evidence of the eternal error of man's ways. With a fight, they gained their rights and freedoms back, that had been stolen away from them. So they became dominant in defending what they felt needed protecting.
There are dominant animals and there are meek animals. The meek animals are still victims of the dominant beings. The meek are basically gentle and mean no harm to others. The dominant see the meek as beings and "things" to use for their own needs and wants. So the dominant slyly find a way to steal the life of the meek away from them, feeling they have no rights living unless they say so.
The dominant beings feel they have to do this to the weak meek beings cause it makes their own lives better and stronger. They don't want to find another way, cause they don't really care about the meek beings life. They care about themselves.
So in short, yes all animals have the right to live on our Earth, they have a right to breath, eat, procreate, and just be. They started out in the same way as all beings have. We are all equal.
It is in the pleasure the dominant beings get from using the meek that keeps them being dominant instead of harmonious. They have gone from having a right for survival, to believing they have a right to take over. Just cause the dominant take over the planet, doesn't mean the meek beings are not their equals. It means simply they have very little respect for the other beings on this planet.
The minimum length for an argument is 50 characters. The purpose of this restriction is to cut down on the amount of dumb jokes, so we can keep the quality of debate and discourse as high as possible.
trolololololo Putting your important note there makes me want to do it more :D
yes i support at this view that animals are equal to humans.Though humans are named as the supreme in this universe as its only meant for there intelligence or knowledge.animals are more faith full than humans.They cannot lie,or cheat,love etc... humans make promises which they would never perform it. humans just use a person or be a friend of him/his until he has some amount of money in his hand. and many so incidents shows that humans are similar to animals.Hence animals never cheat, lie etc... As the pet animals just obey thee masters.though humans say lie,as they will be knowing the truth but they due to selfishness but animals don't... this is what animals are.;.....';];
Look here, Humans will create their societies, but without them, we have nothing. And we are sad creatures that are bound to oir restrictions. We cannot travel on certain lands without papers, and we are bound to money to experience anything. The rest of e anjmal kingdom are probably sitting by laughing at us.
I believe that animals are equal to humans because what they do in order to survive is the same, and animals can think and feel like humans.
First of all, animals are equal to humans because they eat, sleep, and defecate to survive like humans. Even the method might be different, what they do in order to live is basically the same.
Secondly, animals can think like humans. Animals think and act wisely and humans also think and invent things to make their lives comfortable. For example, squirrels store acorns at a certain place and forget where they stored them. Then, at that spot, acorn trees will grow which will provide squirrels more food to eat. Also, humans developed science technology which enables us to do anything. Thomas Edison invented the light bulb, and Steve Jobs invented iPhone, iPad, etc.
Next, animals can feel like humans. When one person kicks another, that person feels pain. When animals bite and kick each another, they feel pain, too. Also, female animals love and care for their children. For instance, last time, at the zoo, a young child fell over the fence where an orangutan lives. Then, the orangutan protected the child so, the child was safe.
Lastly, there is a belief called evolutionism which people say, "Humans are derived from apes." Therefore, animals are equal to humans because of these three reasons.
Well, we all share earth. Animals have always accompanied us as friends. We look after them, if humans became extinct so would many other animals they depend on us for food. If you disappeared and your dog stayed at home, they wouldn't survive as no one would care for them. If animals disappeared we would survive but the world would be lonely. The beauty of animals would be gone. What would scientists experiment on? What would make up companies do? How would new medicines be tested? Where would mans best friends go?
Humans have the wrong grasp of intelligence, in my opinion. Intelligence to most of us is how well one can solve a math problem, do grammar, etc. left brain subjects. But i think intelligence is something much more.. Emotion, and the ability to survive. Animals, (including humans) have a will to survive, embedded from millions of years of adapting, and following instinct. You know how most women have a sense of when a guy is bad news? Well, other animals have this too. When I'm not feeling well, my dog gets upset. As well as my cat. And I know of people who's horses are the same. But not just humans, animals become friends with other animals. We have all seen it. There is much evidence to prove that animals deserve equal rights as humans do. We are all animals.
First of all, I don't think we can put "Animals" in a group and "Humans" in another. We are all animals of varying complexity. A bacterium is not the same as an amoeba, which is not the same as an ant, which is not the same as a cat, which is not the same as a human, and so on. We cannot put the same standard of morality on all animals. If I kill an ant, that's extremely different than killing a monkey or a dog.
In that sense, other animals are not equal to humans, just as they are not equal to each other.
yes animals are equal to humans. As i walk down ma street i see some ants marching with a 12 to 14 ant s following it and i see a bird collecting food for it s babies and even there frnds. but we human being dont do like that. do we? each human is jealous about other. according to this context animals are far better than humans
Of course animals aren't equal to humans. We are biologically programmed to put our own species above all others. To not do so is what TRULY makes an elitist snob in comparison to animals.
Animals that are intelligent don't consider themselves equal to humans. They consider their own species above humans. It's how we're programmed. If we weren't programmed to consider ourselves above other species, then all species would be unable evolve since they would be unable to hunt for living food.
If you really care about not putting yourself above nature, then do nature a favor and act like it programmed you to act.
Although I cannot say animals are equal to humans I can say that they are alike. They truly march to the beat of a different drummer and it's a subjective beat at that. It's action and reaction because animals cannot reason as humans can. If humans were to live as animals there would be more people in jails or prisons than we could possibly hold. We cannot merely react without consequence to ourselves and, possibly, our loved ones. Animals do what humans would love to do if circumstances dictated no consequence.
No, but by saying this, that doesn't mean that we have the right to make one suffer. And by not being equal doesn't mean we are always the superior. If you were stuck on the plains amongst a pride of lions without a weapon, I'm sure as hell you wouldn't be feeling superior.
Well according to creationism, in which i hold my beleif on, all life is created for us. WE need it for our physical survival. We therefore are responsible for being caretakers of the earth, just as God is our caretaker. We are created in Gods image, making us the most important in comparison to anything else he created. And if you continue to read the word you will learn that God loves us dearly.:)
I side with Aristotle's hierarchy of life based on a being's soul. First off, every living being has some form of a soul, so senselessly killing any animal, or even plant, is wrong unless you intend to eat it, eradicate a pest, or use the organism for something else that will help you. Now the souls...
First is a nutritive soul. Everything with living cells has one. It is what makes us all want to grow and be strong, survive natural selection, and find food or make it.
Second, every single animal has a sensitive soul which only means they can move themselves freely and react quickly to the environment, unlike plants which are stuck where they are and have no say over what happens to them. Animals also want to grow and thrive, but senses are the next level of a soul, above plants.
The final level is the rational soul. Humans have a rational soul- that's it. No other species has one. We can, on average, think logically and intellectually, affect the environment on a large of small scale, and have the capability of doing great things that no other being on Earth can do. And any animal who comes close to this, like a dolphin, I would also consider immoral to kill and eat. Animals vary in complexity and some can be killed with little or no remorse, like an insect, while others are rarely killed by sane people, like a dog or cat.
This is unrelated to the debate, but why do you believe this silly 2000 year old theory that was devised before we even understood that the brain was used for thinking? It's like believing in astrology or tarot cards.
So plants have souls? They "want" to grow? Where do these souls come from? How do you know they exist? Why can't you accept that plants are just a collection of dumb biological material?
We did a whole month of philosophy in religion this past year and this is one of the things that stuck with me. I've always believed we were a superior species, but I never really knew why (other than that bullcrap in Genesis about creation.)
"Why can't you accept that plants are just a collection of dumb biological material?"
No life is "dumb biological material". Life is so precious and intricate and even though I am a firm believer in evolution (including the fact that single celled organisms evolved on their own from nothing but organic compounds), I see all life as intended. Therefore, no life is "dumb".
And yes, they do want to grow. Plants are capable of growing against gravity, where they shouldn't grow since they have no skeletal structure or muscles. They are also capable of growing toward light, water, and nutrients.
No- I don't believe the average animal in the animal kingdom is equal to the human species in particular. I also believe animals are not equal to each other, and would place more value on a gorilla or a dog than a flea or an ant.
I do believe that animals experience pain and emotion, and that the intelligence of humans does not necessarily make us better. But if you asked me which would be a less moral thing to do- kill a bug or kill a human that I have no connection to, they are absolutely not equal and the latter is much worse.
Animals arent't equal to us. We do more than just survive, eat, reproduce and so on: we - only us - have the ability of complex thought. Only we have passion, interests, only we can enjoy life (an animal just survive until it is able to have offspring) and give it a "purpose". Sorry for them, but we are superior. It is right to eat animals - we are omnivores -, it is right to experiment on them to develope treatmens and drugs (a human is worth more than an animal life). That being said, i don't think it is right to harm animals when it is not necessary (for fun, for vanity, for cosmetics).
To those that say that they are equal to us: so you would exchange the life of one of your friends with the life of your pet, if you have one?
I think our priority is to worry about our species, and not show empathy to other species at the expense of being apathetic to our own species.
If we can help other species without harming our own, then there's nothing wrong with it. But considering the living condition of a dog at the same level of consideration for the living condition of your fellow man is... I don't want to say evil, but it feels wrong, in a way. Very wrong.
EDIT: It appears I made a derp and replied a debate I've already replied to. But then again, it's not really my fault, considering most debates over generic topics like these are beaten dead horses and it's impossible to differentiate between one debate and the other. So, of course I forgot I replied here... ha.