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 Is a human life any more valuable than animal life, and why? (8)

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Mack(309) pic



Is a human life any more valuable than animal life, and why?

Is there any reason that a human life is more valuable than an animal's life?  Is there any objective value to life at all, or is it only subjective?  Is there a gradient of value to life, with humans being the highest value, and something like plants being the lowest?  Is consciousness necessary for life to have value?  

I understand that there are many large questions here, and perhaps I should have made them into two debates, so don't feel pressed to try to answer all of them.  I also realize that humans can be classified as animals, so when I say animal I mean non-human animal.
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2 points

I would say that there is no objective value to life, because life is the only thing that can value life, and it would be circular to say that that gives it objective value. I don't think that objective truths can be derived from subjective opinions.

For that reason I would say that human life has equal objective value to animal life. The objective value of both is zero, if my previous logic is accurate.

As for subjective value, from a human perspective, humans might seem more valuable, but from another specie's perspective, that species would might more valuable. For that reason, I would say that there still is no difference in overall value, subjective or objective, between different forms of conscious entities.

If I were to assume some sort of intrinsic, objective value to conscious life, I'm not sure if I could come up with an argument for why human life would be more valuable than animal life. Things like higher intelligence and empathy don't really cut the mustard for me as I don't see any objective value to those that would make human life more valuable than animal life. Suggestions?

1 point

I largely agree with you. However, I wonder whether there actually is a difference between subjective valuations of life such that humans and other animals cannot said to be of equal value. Wouldn't it instead be the case that they are relatively valuable one to another, dependent upon which conscious life is doing the valuing?

With respect to your final section, I would suppose that if there were some objective value to conscious life that it would be no more implausible to suppose that higher intelligence or empathy could also be objectively valuable. Without knowing the basis for the objective value in conscious life, though, it's hard to determine if that's an accurate supposition.

I know some people want to say that there's objective value in life expressed by or derived from nature. That seems to presuppose value in nature and just regress the question a further degree, but if it were held as true then one might evaluate the objective value and intelligences and empathy to reproduction and/or survival (though I'm not sure they'd weigh out for high intelligence and empathy).

2 points

It depends on which human and which animal.

Is the average mom from Peoria more important than a house cat? Yes.

Is Trump more important than a sewer rat? Nope.

1 point

Value is that for which one acts to gain and/or to keep (this definition does not require consciousness for valuation). Not only is life the only thing that can value, but value is a necessity to life (without actively, even if automatically working to maintain life, the living cease). While valuation is a subjective undertaking, value itself is an objective phenomenon. Just as eyesight is an objective phenomenon though seeing is a subjective experience.

Since value is necessary to life, and since the kind of life we are is human, ones own human life is more valuable than animal life. This can subjectively change, but when this changes, the person dies (if not dying to rescue a pet, then suicide after a pets death).

Since value is an objective phenomenon, which exists for a reason (living), and has observable consequences, facts can be known concerning value. Just as some eyesight is objectively worse than other eyesight when it provides poor vision, some values are objectively worse than others when they provide poor outcomes for the living.

Mack(309) Clarified
1 point

"While valuation is a subjective undertaking, value itself is an objective phenomenon. Just as eyesight is an objective phenomenon though seeing is a subjective experience."

This seems true, value itself is an objective phenomenon, but I don't think it follows that things can be objectively more valuable than other things from that point (I'm not really sure if what you said here implied that some things are objectively more valuable than others, so I'm just clarifying here, I'm not necessarily disagreeing with you). Value is definitely an actual thing, but the actual degree of value surely varies depending on who gives the valuing, as you said, "valuation is a subjective undertaking."

"Since value is necessary to life, and since the kind of life we are is human, ones own human life is more valuable than animal life. This can subjectively change, but when this changes, the person dies (if not dying to rescue a pet, then suicide after a pets death)."

This is true from the human perspective, but would you agree that from another animal's perspective, they could say the same thing about themselves (if they could talk)? Are we still justified to say that our own human lives are more valuable if that's the case? We would have to put our own opinion higher than that of animals... Is it fair to say that our opinion about what is more valuable is a more valid opinion than that of animals?

Oceaneer Clarified Banned
1 point

value itself is an objective phenomenon

No it isn't you complete imbecile. Do you dribble from the corners of your mouth when you eat cereal or something? A piece of wood has value to a drowning man but no value to a man burning in a fire. It's subjective, you pseudo-philosophical fuckwit.

Amarel(2350) Clarified
1 point

value itself is an objective phenomenon, but I don't think it follows that things can be objectively more valuable than other things from that point

Values, being necessary for living things, can be objectively reasoned based on the nature of the thing that values. Given human nature and requirements, we can determine that some values are objectively irrational or antithetical to the valuer. That person may still value some things more than they rationally should, and since there is no value that is absent a valuer, we cannot say that things are objectively more or less valuable. What we can say is that things values are objectively more or less rational.

This is true from the human perspective, but would you agree that from another animal's perspective, they could say the same thing about themselves (if they could talk)? Are we still justified to say that our own human lives are more valuable if that's the case?

A bear would eat you on the premise (unarticulated) that his life is more valuable than yours. You would kill the bear to keep him from killing you on the premise that your life is more valuable than the bears. It is natural, rational, and justifiable for both subjects to hold themselves as the higher value.

Is it fair to say that our opinion about what is more valuable is a more valid opinion than that of animals?

It is fair insofar as nature is fair.