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    Are human lives more valuable than other animals?

    challenge posed by Kate Freeman 142 days 20 hours 13 minutes ago

    Category: World
    Challenge Forum

    Are human lives more valuable than other animals?

    One of the many big news stories to come out of 2016 occurred in May when officials at the Cincinnati Zoo shot and killed a Gorilla (Harambe) after a 4-year-old boy climbed into the enclosure. This event raised a number of questions, including “are human lives more valuable than those of other species?” There are a lot of differing opinions regarding the value of a human life versus other species, as well as numerous reasoning. Is it our superior intelligence, spirituality and ingenuity that makes our lives more valuable than other animals? Studies have shown that we place more value on certain species, as well as our pets. In 2013, researchers conducted a study in which they asked participants what they would do in various moral dilemmas. One question asked the participants who they would save from a getting hit by a bus – their pet or a “foreign tourist”. Of the nearly 600 people surveyed, 40% chose their pet. Pet owners aren’t the only people who think animal lives are more important than humans’. For less emotional reasons, some environmental activists think it would be wise to consider the lives of all species equal because we are all dependent on each other in some way. But for many people, it’s assumed that human lives are more valuable than the lives of animals. Humans have been the only species to create beautiful art and architecture, go to space and, in addition, there is a debate among religious people on whether or not animals have souls. What are your thoughts on this? Share your opinions in the comments!

    Re: Are human lives more valuable than other animals?

    Hello Kate!
    I definitely agree that this topic yields MANY different perspectives. When I first begin to think about this topic, I thought about how I love animals and believe that every specimen on this Earth is special and has meaning. Yet, the more I think about it, the more I realize how hypocritical I am! If I see a spider on the floor, I immediately stomp on it with my foot- not because it was causing any harm, but because of the harm I was afraid it could cause. Similarly, I view many other insects as "creepy" and I almost take pride in killing them. I was always that kid who stomped on the ant pile and unthinkingly destroyed the colony's home! Honestly, I would feel a lot worse admitting this if I didn't know that so many people are the same way as I am- if we humans dislike an animal for any reason, we instantaneously attempt to harm them (and often kill them) as a means of defense. I do value the lives of insects and other "scary" animals, but my behavior seems to point rather selfishly towards the idea that I view myself as most valuable, and will take any measures necessary for protection.
    I guess my point is that, even if we tell ourselves animals are just as valuable as ourselves, more often than not humans will harm or kill another animal in a heartbeat if their safety is threatened at all.

    Re: Are human lives more valuable than other animals?

    This is a wonderful topic to discuss. Thank you Kate for bringing it up. In my opinion, humans consider intelligence the main indicator of a species superiority and since humans have evolved in such a way that allows for such cognitive thought it is assumed that humans are the most intelligent and therefore superior to any other species. But that being said, the measure of intelligence is always compared to a humans and so it is fairly impossible for other species to measure up to that mark unless they themselves are human. I believe that all animals have the right to live and that no life is more valuable than another. Everything is all connected and in order to survive and keep all food webs, ecosystems and biomes functioning we rely on each and every other organism that we share the earth with. A lot of people have come to think that all other animals are here to serve us which puts the human race on a pedestal when in fact, we're all interdependent. With the question of value however our responses are biased against any other animal because any species will value their own above another. It just happens to be that we are the dominant species on the earth right now which pushes other animals to the edges and results in a percieved diminishment of value of their lives.

    Re: Are human lives more valuable than other animals?

    Hi Kate!

    This raises more of a question about the connection someone has with their companions. Love is a drug, and drugs make us make decisions not easily understood by anyone else. I personally believe our (Western) society has shifted away from the connectivity of being human and into the technology age where someone would rather fall flat on their face than drop their phone.

    Personally, my dog has been more consistently a part of my life than literally anyone else. No one has supported me more than her. So, you can bet money that I'd save her before some stranger whom I don't know. Someone that may or may not be worth saving. Call it inhumane, but humanity errs on the side of selfishness, and I selfishly care for a being that gives me so much happiness I couldn't imagine life without her.

    Maybe we're devolving. Or, maybe we're shifting. Maybe we're going crazy. But, to be fair, Harambe wasn't even threatening that kid. #RIPHarambe

    Thanks for reading,


    Re: Are human lives more valuable than other animals?

    Hey Kate,

    I think a lot of what happens when it comes to situations such as the Harambe incident spawns from a lack of understanding. There was not a guarantee that the gorilla was going to actually hurt the child. What really blows my mind about this though was that nobody cared to mention that a lack of supervision was what caused the entire situation.

    Moving on, I think animals and humans are on somewhat different levels, but every creature should be respected in similar ways. There are things though, such as the need for food that will always be there, but killing animals in a more humane way would be a good way to go about it. No more of the farms where animals are locked up all day long and never see the light of day. I do understand that some people don't value animal lives as much as humans, and I pity those who have never had the experience of loving an animal as though it were family.

    As for the study, I would be one of the 40% who would save the animal first. I tend to try and help people as much as I can, but that has not always worked out in my favor. Humans are programmed to save themselves first, so I would assume that a person, regardless if I tried to help them, would try to save themselves. I have never had an animal hurt my feelings, or stab me in the back intentionally, or take what I did for them for granted. Although humans may be more intelligent, we have a serious lack in compassion for each other and other animals in our world. So, although there will always be a few circumstances such as the need for food, animals need to be thought of just like a human would. That said, there was no reason to shoot the gorilla, but maybe the mother of the child should have been looked at for putting her child in harm by not properly watching after the child.

    Have a great day!

    Re: Are human lives more valuable than other animals?


    I definitely think that a human life is more valuable, to a point. If a person is hunting for sport and shoots the last animal and makes that species extinct, then I think that person needs to go. I think we all need to be more weary about what is going on around us and in the world.

    Animals are being killed everyday for a variety of different reasons- one of the main ones is that humans need to eat! If we don't kill animals for food, what are we going to eat? Humans killing and eating animals is the basic food chain. They have killed for as long as we have been here.

    The reason for Harambe's death is sad. But, the fact of the matter is that if he would have killed that child, he would have been shot. Then we would have had two deaths on our hand. Gorillas are not extinct. That does not justify why he was shot, but it could be a factor. The whole thing could have been solved if the parent watched her a kid a little better, but that is a whole different story.


    Re: Are human lives more valuable than other animals?


    Re: Are human lives more valuable than other animals?

    The idea of other organisms being less valuable than human beings is speciest. The issue I find most contradictory to this value of humans being superior to other organisms is defeated by the numerous faults that happen to plague humans. Arguably, we could single-handedly obliterate the Earth with our collective stockpile of weaponry. No other creature that I am aware of has managed to amass the ability to destroy life as we know it, nor come so close as we did during the Cold War to going through with initiating nuclear ahnnilation. The only comparison that can be made in potential is that of super pathogens or possibly the Black Death that significantly lowered the Earth’s population centuries beforehand. Virtually every defense for the ‘superiority’ of mankind is perceptual and based on our own values and considerations rather than an objective or absolute system.

    Re: Are human lives more valuable than other animals?


    There are very valid points on both sides of this argument. While it is important to consider the lives of all species, in a situation like this, I would also consider the human's life more important.

    I just always think what if that was my child who happened to climb through the railings and fallen in the gorilla exhibit. Not only is that an extremely scary thought but if they may have left the gorilla, that boy may have died and his mom and many other people and kids would have watched it happen.

    I would take the life of an animal before I let it take a human's life. That is just the way my morals and values work and I completely understand those who think the other way around.


    Re: Are human lives more valuable than other animals?

    Good morning Kate,

    I think the question can be answered by breaking down what value animals, pets, people etc. bring to this world. At the core, none have intrinsic value to the universe; we all just exist. If all was to disappear tomorrow, the universe wouldn’t care. It is us that assign value to the lives we encounter.

    Launching from there, environmentalists are probably onto something. The survival of life, including our own, is dependent on maintaining a baseline complexity, which would lend credence to all creatures having value.

    The assumption that most people have that humans are more valuable than other life probably has its roots in our natural instincts. For most, there is a desire to propagate the species that takes the form of procreation, lethal self-defense, and killing to consume. There is nothing intrinsically wrong with this. It is part of our DNA. The problem comes about when that desire to consume overwhelms the available natural resources.

    Back to the tourist, pet, child, and Harambe. I make the assumption that the tourist is self-aware and should understand that the rules of the environment they are in. I would save my pet. As for the child and Harambe, why was the gorilla enclosure not completely sealed? Why was the child separated from the mother long enough to find his way into the enclosure? I understand why Harambe was killed and why people value themselves over animals, but this seemed needless.

    Re: Are human lives more valuable than other animals?

    Hi everyone,

    I do not think that human lives are more valuable than animals lives simply because we all need each other in order to survive. Human are not the only being on the food chain. Nature need us as much we need it including its other beings that are not human. Truly if human life is the only valuable thing on earth, then it would seems as if the creator of Heaven and earth spend his time fooling around. When you look at the food chain and the ecosystem you will truly see that all creatures and its life on this planet has a purpose therefore the life it has is also important. I hope that I made some sense, have a wonderful day.

    Re: Are human lives more valuable than other animals?

    All life is precious.

    To say that one life is more valuable than another life is very selfish and small minded.

    Yet, I still find myself killing bugs in my house.

    I suppose it's easier said than done. Is an ant's life any less than yours?

    Animals create more than beautiful art and architecture, they create our culture.

    The living things in China are different than the living things in America.

    The ecosystems that we have destroyed by capturing species, and the environments humanity has demolished for civilization is proof that humans take their lives more precious than other lives.

    Re: Are human lives more valuable than other animals?

    Hi Kate and all!

    The Harambe incident is sad in many ways. Not only was an innocent gorilla killed, but an innocent young child was in danger, as well. Harambe was dragging the child around, not knowing the harm that could be done to the little boy. The size and natural strength of the gorilla in comparison to the child was a danger in itself. The baby was dragged through a pool of water and rocky terrain, too.

    Harambe does not understand human directives, "halt or I'll shoot", etc, and therefore the authorities had no choice but to make a decision which I am sure was not an easy one for them. An innocent baby made his way into the animal habitat and now had his young life in jeopardy.

    How a child is able to accomplish this without the parents knowing is beyond my comprehension. This little boy must not have been watched very well at all. I feel there should be severe punishment on the parents of the little boy, as their blatant disregard for their child's safety also took the life of an innocent gorilla, as well. They were not apologetic about the incident at all.

    Hopefully this little boy is in a better home environment from this incident.

    Take care all,


    Re: Are human lives more valuable than other animals?

    First of all this is a controversial topic it because it shows what we as humans prioritize. In my opinion, I will put it like this...

    If a man was forced to kill either you or a calf in order to spare his family from torment, which would you prefer?
    ( I think the human)
    Now that is extreme, allow me to hit you with another question...

    If our government went into a financial collapse in which they had to select which group they had to take care of with what they had remaining, would you want them to decide to comfort you medically, food wise, water wise or comfort the animals we have left in this country both on reserves and in non-reserves ?

    The answer is profoundly obvious.

    Re: Are human lives more valuable than other animals?

    Hi Kate,

    It should be regarded that all life is important. But yes, we think we are more important ans animals become dumb victims.

    Best way to answer is this:

    Put a scenario where you could save a loved one or an animal. What would you do?

    Ideal stuff even for animal lovers won't seem ideal when it gets personal
    It's just because we see animals in zoos and all that we even consider this question as we are causing imbalance to nature. So we must stop that. For, if we do that then it shouldn't be a problem because no wild animal is going to think of saving your life when one of its species' life is at stake.

    Re: Are human lives more valuable than other animals?


    Re: Are human lives more valuable than other animals?

    Hey Kate!

    I do not agree with killing that ape at all.

    I'm not sure why humans think they can capture something from the wild or even save from the wild to rehabilitate, to only kill it late because of it's natural instincts.

    I hate that.

    It makes no sense to me whatsoever.

    No judgement at all to the parents, I have a six year old that doesn't listen well. I could see her trying to reach inside an animal closer after being told no repeatedly.

    Freak accidents happen. Remember the little boy in Florida at the Disneyland Resort. Once again, an animal using it's natural instincts. Another freak accident.

    Freak accidents don't validate killing an animal. To me this was inhumane. And I thought zoos were supposed to serve a purpose and be human to all the animals. Obviously not.

    Let the animals live like they are supposed to live. If we can't keep then in nature, then we need to let them be able to be as close to and live as close to them being in nature.

    Thanks for letting me rant!! I could probably go on and on about this topic. But I will stop for now.


    Re: Are human lives more valuable than other animals?

    Hello Everybody,

    My personal views on if humans are more valuable than animals are a little mixed to say the least. Every human life is just as important as the next life. If a human is placed in a situation where they are at risk of being killed than I feel they should be protected. However: if you are placing yourself in harms way I believe a sleep tranquilizer should be used to get the human out of the situation (like at the zoo).
    Not all people think clearly with their minds. If you are going to jump into danger then you may want to expect to have consequences for your actions. We can't set guidelines for each individual person living on this planet, we set one guideline in hopes that everyone can clearly understand right from wrong and make good decisions.

    Re: Are human lives more valuable than other animals?

    Hi Kate. I believe that all life is valuable but, human life is more so. If you look at it biblically God gave people dominion over the world. If that is true and there was a possibility that the much loved Harambe was going to harm the boy then I believe that shooting him was the right thing to do. If you are more of an agnostic or atheist then I believe that it also would have been morally right to shoot Harambe. A lot of atheists believe that morally humans as a species should do whatever would help them to thrive and survive. To answer your question, yes human lives are more valuable than animal lives.

    Re: Are human lives more valuable than other animals?

    People are more important than animals.

    My opinion.