Are Animal Lives As Valuable As Human Lives?

Discussion in 'Politics, Religion, Social Issues' started by Dmac77, Feb 18, 2011.

  1. Dmac77, Feb 18, 2011
    Last edited: Feb 18, 2011

    Dmac77 macrumors 68020

    Dmac77

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    #1
    I just finished a really good book written by Dr. Irene Pepperberg, a researcher at Brandeis University, called Alex & Me. It's about a 30 year study she did with a parrot named Alex. Throughout the experiment, she taught the parrot to speak English and by the time he died he had a vocabulary of nearly 200 words. He could recognize and name colors, count, ask questions (about others and himself) understood and properly followed English syntax, and also was able to express emotion verbally.

    The story of his death was really quite moving for me, his last words to Dr. Pepperberg before he died were "Love you. Be Good. See you tomorrow?" to which she replied "Love you too. Yes I will be in tomorrow." He died later that night of either a heart attack or stroke.

    Reading this book has cemented my belief that we are truly no better than animals, we may be smarter, but not by much if you ask me. I know that the idea of animal linguistics is controversial still, but I wanted to get other's opinions on the topic.

    After researching various animals that have learned human language, I found another really moving story about a ape named Washoe who asked one of her researchers why she had been on leave for so long. The researcher told Washoe through sign language "My baby died" (she had a miscarriage), to which Washoe made the sign for "cry" and then reached out and drew a tear down the researcher's face with her finger. Things like that just further cement my belief that animals feel emotions just like we do and are able to sympathize with us, which to me demonstrates high intelligence.

    So ask yourself, would you save an animal from death if it meant a child would die, or vis versa? Why would you do what you would do? Give an answer besides "I'd save the child because they're human." explain why you think an animal's life is worth less than a humans, or vis versa.

    -Don
     
  2. dukebound85 macrumors P6

    dukebound85

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    #2
    Not at all imo

    I like animals but in no way are they equals to us as far as I am concerned. Keep in mind, I am not denying the intelligence of some species
     
  3. Dmac77 thread starter macrumors 68020

    Dmac77

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    #3
    I respect your opinion, but can you explain why you feel they are inferior to us?

    -Don
     
  4. dukebound85 macrumors P6

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    #4
    Because they aren't us. Why do you feel they are on the same level?

    To me, your stance implies if a building was burning, you would place saving cats and dogs on the same level of importance as saving children.
     
  5. vincenz macrumors 601

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    #5
    I agree that animals have souls too.

    Now if only I could get my parrot to not take a crap wherever and whenever it pleases...
     
  6. MacNut macrumors Core

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    #6
    Sure animals are smart, probably more so than we give them credit for. In some ways we are equal. We both have ways of communicating while it be through language or other forms. However, humans have advanced so far through the centuries that other species have not been able to do. I think the way we think makes us far superior and our ability to engineer has propelled us ahead of everything else.
     
  7. appleguy123 macrumors 603

    appleguy123

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    #7
    I think that there are 2 different questions here:
    1. Are animals almost as smart as we are?
    2. Are animals our equals?
    The answer to number one is not what the OP wanted to know I don't think.
    My answer to number 2 is how do you assign value to various forms of life? Is a human worth more than a chimpanzee? How much more? How much more than an insect? Is there a currency of species value?
    Our minds have been evolved to say no, but the logical answer is that we and animals are equal, if a value could ever be assigned to life.
    Humans may do more complex things than others, but that doesn't make us more valuable.
     
  8. chordate68 macrumors regular

    chordate68

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    #8
    No they are most definitely not. While there are some animals that are capable of expressing emotions on the same level as humans, they lack the higher level thinking that is prominent in Homo Sapiens. Sure, apes are extremely close to humans genetically, but within that 2% there is a great divide. We both use tools and have very similar body structure. But, humans are more capable of higher level thinking e.g. the pyramids, calculus, space travel, religion, etc. Emotionally we are on the same level though. Take dogs for instance, due to their domestication they are very adapt at reading our emotions.
     
  9. MacNut, Feb 18, 2011
    Last edited: Feb 18, 2011

    MacNut macrumors Core

    MacNut

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    #9
    We coexist and try to protect endangered species but I don't know if that makes us equal. Sure we rely on bees to make honey and other insects to clean the ecosystem but that doesn't mean we are on the same level.

    The only way that other species are equal to us is if they have their own civilizations that we don't know about. If ant farms have governments and rules the same way we do.
     
  10. Tomorrow macrumors 604

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    #10
    Animals (for purposes of this discussion, meaning "not humans") are nowhere near our equals.

    I believe that, whether you chalk it up to evolution, natural selection, or whatever, that species which live and thrive today (i.e. not neck-deep in the proverbial tar pit) all have some sort of survival mechanism which keeps them competitive with other species for time and space on this planet. Some animals have camouflage, some are fast, some can fly, some can swim, some have very sharp teeth and claws. We, as humans, have our intelligence, and it's unrivaled in the animal kingdom. I offer the following as evidence of this claim:

    Virtually without exception, animals (again, meaning "not humans") live in some sort of equilibrium with their environment - meaning their numbers are controlled by their surrounding ecology. They have to live where the climate is correct for them. They have to live where they can find their natural shelter. They have to live where their food source is.

    Humans, on the other hand, have learned to manipulate the environment to make it suitable for habitation. We can build shelter virtually anywhere. We've learned to climate control our shelters. Thanks to agriculture, our population numbers aren't kept in check by the amount of food we're able to hunt and gather. Because we've figured out transportation and distribution systems, we're able to transport food and water to places where it doesn't grow naturally. All of this, which I'm sure many of us take for granted, makes us unique in the animal kingdom.
     
  11. appleguy123 macrumors 603

    appleguy123

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    #11
    Does a higher level of thinking make an organism more valuable? Would, for example, a child severely affected by Down's Syndrome be less valuable than a self aware ape like a chimpanzee?
    My question is why do you assume humans are more valuable? All that you are doing is pointing out differences between humans and other organisms. Why do these make humans intrinsically more valuable?
    Would a chimpanzee think you, a human, of so much worth that he and his fellows should immediately give their lives to you?
     
  12. neko girl macrumors 6502a

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    #12
    I believe animals are our equals. Just because something is smarter or looks just like me doesn't mean I automatically ascribe it greater value.

    And for folks referring to "same level" or whatever else, I'm not sure what "level" you're referring to exactly. Maybe Watson on Jeopardy is on a lower "level", and the egyptians who assaulted Lara Logan are on a higher "level". Terms that make us feel like as a species we are important and special and better and somehow superior and more important.

    Funny.
     
  13. MacNut macrumors Core

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    #13
    Other animals would exist and go on living the same way they do now if we were not here. We use the environment for our personal gain more than any other species. We really don't have a connection with one another. Birds go on doing their thing the same with bugs. They really don't care that we exist along side them. They don't follow a calendar or care about what time of day it is.
     
  14. appleguy123 macrumors 603

    appleguy123

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    #14
    Oh, I get that we're smarter than other animals. I've acknowledged that several times.
    I'm asking why you think that humans are more valuable than animals. And also by what standard you give forms of life a value.
     
  15. MacNut macrumors Core

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    #15
    I am not saying we are more valuable we are just higher up on the food chain. We really do have run of the place when most other creatures do not.
     
  16. neko girl macrumors 6502a

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    #16
    No, actually human beings are the species most out of balance with the environment.

    Animals would actually live and survive (long term) if we weren't here (and maybe they wouldn't if a meteor came a struck them). Not really a good point to make.

    Birds do follow calendars, and most animals have a better sense of time of day, seasons, and weather than we do.
     
  17. dukebound85 macrumors P6

    dukebound85

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    #17
    If I were a tiger, I would assign more value to tigers over humans

    If I were a lizard, likewise

    As I am human, I place more value on my own species
     
  18. appleguy123 macrumors 603

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    #18
    Oh, I agree with you then. That fact is undeniable. I thought that you were saying that we were more important than they because of our intelligence.
    Apologies.
     
  19. MacNut macrumors Core

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    #19
    Everything on earth has a purpose in life. Humans are more advanced in what we can do. While bugs can destroy a forest in a year we can destroy the planet in a day if we really wanted to. We might not be the best habitants in terms of how we treat the environment but we have the most control over it.
     
  20. appleguy123 macrumors 603

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    #20
    That's exactly what I'm saying. We are engineered by Evolution to think in this manner. But if we use our logic, we see that these value calculations quickly fall apart. Which is why I feel that all life is equal.
    If a child and an ant were both burning, I would have to save the child because our brain's empathy is more targeted on our own species.
     
  21. Dmac77 thread starter macrumors 68020

    Dmac77

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    #21
    I absolutely would put saving a cat or a dog on the same level as saving a child, and thinking about it, I might even put it on a higher level. Think about it, even if that child grows up to be the next Mandela, he/she will inevitably be cruel to people throughout their life. We as humans seem to get a kick out of being cruel towards others. Whereas I have never known a cat or dog to be cruel to a person in anyway (it's always the other way around). I work with animals at a shelter occasionally, and I can tell you that it is much more rewarding to work with those animals than volunteering at a retirement home was when I did that. The animals are appreciative for any type of attention you give them, whereas people are normally outright jerks. People hold grudges, and are certainly less likely to take time out of their day to sit with a complete stranger when you need someone to just talk to. Animals on the other hand never hold grudges much less get angry at anyone, and they always care about those around them (at least that how it seems to me). So yes I would take saving a animal just as seriously or more seriously than saving a child; because people always end up being cruel sometime in their life, animals never judge, and are never cruel. Then again I'm the guy who thinks someone who abuses an animal should face the same consequences as a child abuser
    To be honest, you phrased what I wanted to ask better than I did. I should change the title to are animal lives as valuable as human lives.

    -Don
     
  22. MacNut macrumors Core

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    #22
    Depends on the animal. Are termites worth saving after they do millions of dollars in damage to a house? Do rats have a purpose? Are killler bees worth protecting?
     
  23. appleguy123 macrumors 603

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    #23
    Changed the perspective of the above quote.
    If you want to rate animals on the amount of damage done to nature, Homo sapiens is by far the biggest culprit.
     
  24. MacNut macrumors Core

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    #24
    What other animals will stop us though?
     
  25. bradl macrumors 68040

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    #25
    I would have to say that this is all subject.

    With proper training, some animals can be as important, if not as equal as humans. Great examples are service animals. Police dogs, military dogs, guide dogs, etc. all serve a huge purpose and are given that equivalence in the world. As my SO is wont to state when someone accosts her about having her dog in public places (restaurants, airports, malls, etc.):

    "You think she's just a dog; fine. Give me your eyes, and she will go back to being 'just a dog'."

    So that equivalence is definitely there for her, and the guide dog deserves it; just like many other service animals who are trained to do what no other human has the balls, or the nose to do.

    BL.
     

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