Debate Info

Yes, viruses are living. No, viruses are non-living.
Debate Score:41
Total Votes:48
More Stats

Argument Ratio

side graph
 Yes, viruses are living. (13)
 No, viruses are non-living. (11)

Debate Creator

anbe19(6) pic

Are viruses living things?

I am taking biology in one of my classes, and we are on the topic of what's living and what's non-living. Viruses came up, and I supposed scientists still can't agree on one or the other; not to mention my peers. Which leads me to ask: What do you think?

   There are five points that depict whether something is living.

    1. Self-Reproduction

    2. Self-Organization (heart cells make heart cells, skin cells make skin cells, layers of the body, organs, organelles, ect.)

    3. Self-Preservation

    4. Self-Regulation

    5. Self-Maturation (developing)


Viruses reproduce, but in a different way than multicellular organisms and cells. They need a host, and use the host's cells to infect that eventually turn into the virus. It's not cetain that viruses are organized. However, they do have a layer of protiens and a core (as I was told in school). That either I'm not sure is true because if you happen to search google, the Humman Immunodeficiency Virus (HIV)  is clearly organized. Yet, I'm still not sure about that point, I'm not a scientist. Next point, self-preservation. Viruses do not need nutrition to survive. They're made out of nutrtion from the host cell. Technically making them a parasite, right? Parasitism, maybe? Maybe not. Self-Regulation! More thumbs down rather than up. Because viruses don't have organelles and obviously no hair to grow I'll just skip to reaction of the environment. Viruses don't move, in that way, they can't react to the environment. In spite of that, they react to the environment whenever they attach to a host cell and reproducecit into it's own. Fifth piont, also not the viruses strong suit. Viruses don't necessarily mature. They don't grow from egg to chick, chick to chicken. Rather, they form host cells into the virus, and this not immediatley. Perhaps this would be the "developing" of the virus. Any conclusions yet?

First, viruses are made up of amino acids, which are the building blocks of life. And if evolution is correct, that's what you and I are made of. Secondly, you can kill a virus. You can kill it with various cleaning products. You can't kill something if it isn't alive, right? Thirdly, we instinctively (maybe un-educatedly) assume that viruses are alive. Should we go on instinct?


I know somewhere it says that viruses technically aren't alive. I think that they should be in their own class. Not alive or non-living, but virus. Anyone oppose my idea?



Yes, viruses are living.

Side Score: 27

No, viruses are non-living.

Side Score: 14
5 points

Viruses actually cannot be classified as either living or non living -

Living points -

i) they reproduce

ii) they have genetic material

iii) they can move on their own(very silly point but it must be taken into consideration)

Non - living points -

i) they are acellular (their body has no cellular substance and not even a nucleus but it does have a nuclear material coated with protein)

ii) they don't respire

iii) they don't need nutrition or moisture

In most places viruses are considered an intermediate form between the living and the non-living.But people say they are living yo be on the positive side and also the living points are more speculative than the non-living points.

| Side: Yes, viruses are living.
3 points

Yeah.. they're alive.

So is a plant.

"Self-aware" is the landmark a living thing must meet. Humans and many animals = self aware.

Plants, Viruses, Mold, Embryo = not self aware.

Alive yes, but not aware of their state of being and incapable of knowing the difference.

| Side: Yes, viruses are living.
fishyperson(168) Disputed
2 points

A plant is not closely related to a virus, nor is it probably even distantly related to a virus. It needs to be able to do all the life process on its own.

| Side: No, viruses are non-living.
iamdavidh(4851) Disputed
3 points

Humans arn't closely related to plants either. Are we dead or are they?

| Side: Yes, viruses are living.
3 points

Well I'm no biologist, that's for sure, but I always thought they were living.

| Side: Yes, viruses are living.
2 points

I see it like this:

All living things require other things to live and to eventually reproduce and viruses are no different. We're all missing SOMETHING, They're just missing bits that are particularly strange to us.

Take vitamin C. Most animals can synthesize it naturally, but humans consume it frequently enough that we've lost the ability to synthesize it. Without it, we would die and never reproduce.

Viruses probably came about in a similar way. They started out having reproductive pieces, but they encountered the reproductive machinery in their environment enough that their own wasn't needed any more, so they lost it.

Take this analogy: say humans create a machine that creates babies for people using their own DNA from a saliva sample. This machine becomes so popular that no one does it the traditional way any more. (bare with me, it's a thought experiment) Our sex organs would be redundant, so we would eventually lose them. Would humans still be alive if they outsourced reproduction to environmental machinery? I think so.

I think the definition of "alive" needs to be simply "has self replicating molecules" without specifying that it must contain the machinery required for replication within itself.

| Side: Yes, viruses are living.
2 points

I think that virus is a living thing.... If its not a living thing... how does it reproduce.............

| Side: Virus
Cuaroc(5431) Disputed
2 points

It reproduces by putting it's genetic material into a cell causing the cell to produce the virus.

| Side: No, viruses are non-living.
2 points

Viruses do need a host to function, but they do have the ability to function. Think of it like this: the virus is dormant or off until it invades the host cell which acts a switch and turns the virus's functions on

| Side: Yes, viruses are living.
2 points

Viruses are living, the distinction between a life form and its environment is arbitrary, just as humans would not be alive without a large planetary host, viruses need a host cell to reproduce.

| Side: Yes, viruses are living.
1 point

Of course they are living...if they meet all the characteristics of life...which they do. :D It also says they can die...and living things can't die if they are not alive.

| Side: Yes, viruses are living.
1 point

i think they are living because like it says that for something to be living it has to be able to reproduce and it also says that you can kill a virus and you can kill a human too. Viruses have cells with in them because that is how they transfer and us as humans have cells too.

| Side: Yes, viruses are living.
1 point

Why they are living

- They can die

- It is possible for them to reproduce

- They have evolved

- Part of their virions is made up of the genetic material made from DNA or RNA

| Side: Yes, viruses are living.
0 points

i love you guys these are living not dead funny!!!! yall learn

| Side: Yes, viruses are living.
2 points

It is a tough call, for sure. I have taken a fair amount of biology courses by this point, and the curriculum has always erred on the side of no, but my last teacher said that he believes they are, at least in a way that is quite a bit different from the traditional definition thereof. A friend of mine who is a professional microbiologist says that the point is really moot, but because of their intrinsic interaction with life and the fact that they can be "killed", they should be dealt with as if they are alive, no matter the truth.

As far as "killing" them, that is more or less a man-made concept. For instance, fire certainly is not alive, but it can be "killed" by exhausting the fuel source or depriving it of oxygen (both are good ways to kill many organisms). We don't consider it killing, just a cessation of activity. So, the failure of proper functioning of a virus could be termed likewise as cessation of activity, as opposed to death.

Also, the current theories of abiogenesis propose the concept of protobionts, molecular entities that are subject to natural selection and composed of amino acids and basic RNA. These things are considered to be a sort of pre-life, the intermediate stage between inactive organic molecules and true life. Some scientists view viruses as being very similar to the concept of protobiont. Presumably it would be one that was instigated by pre-existing bacteria or emerged wholly independently, but either way developed into an entity that "survives" entirely on the genetic material of other organisms, and never needed to evolve into true life to propagate.

I will tag this as "no", but I could see (and have seen) good arguments for either side.

| Side: No, viruses are non-living.

Viruses are non living because they do not do all of the seven life processes needed. for something to be alive it must do all of these.

| Side: No, viruses are non-living.
1 point

Viruses are not cells. they lack cell membranes and don't have other components of living cells

| Side: No, viruses are non-living.
1 point

They require a host cell to reproduce. they are nothing but chemicals outside a host cell.

| Side: No, viruses are non-living.
1 point

They do not respond to stimuli. Nor do they metabolize. which is required to be considered living.

| Side: No, viruses are non-living.
1 point

Self-Maturation (developing)

Viruses do not grow or develop at all once they are mad they stay the same size forever.

| Side: No, viruses are non-living.
1 point

Viruses cannot adapt to their environment were as living organisms can.

| Side: No, viruses are non-living.
1 point

Viruses do not belong to any Kingdom were as living organisms do.

| Side: No, viruses are non-living.

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