Is Animal Life Equivalent to Human Life?
Animal vs. Human vs. Plant
This hub is in response to keepitnatural's question:
Do you consider the 'life' of an animal to be equivalent to that of a human's? If not then why not..
I say why limit the question to animal life?
Plants Think, I think.
Here's an excerpt from Tony Trewavas' work at the University of Edinburgh: "Intelligent behaviour, a complex adaptive phenomenon, is designed to increase fitness in variable environmental circumstances particularly those involving resource foraging and competition. Biologists suggest that intelligence encompasses the characteristics of detailed sensory perception, information processing, learning, memory, choice, efficient optimisation of resource sequestration with minimal outlay, self-recognition, and foresight by predictive modelling. There is good evidence that individual plant species exhibit all of these intelligent behavioural capabilities. Plants should therefore be regarded as prototypical intelligent organisms, a concept that has considerable consequences for evolutionary convergence and investigations of whole plant communication, computation and signal transduction."
Life is Life - All Life is Valuable
All multi-cellular life; Animal (including human), plants, and insects have the same basic make-up of DNA, complex cell structure, sensory organs, and intelligence. The differences are in degree.
I personally have great respect for all life, and will not kill any living thing without cause. In order to eat, we have no choice but to kill something, since we can't eat rocks. The vegetarian who won’t eat something with fur kills thousands of plants to happily munch their granola. Modern cultures draw the limit at eating each other, but the line between eating grass or your neighbor is only a matter of perceived value on each type of life.
I believe any attempt to value one type of life over another is fruitless, as the planet needs all forms to maintain a sustainable balance. Of all species, probably the least needed is Homo sapiens, as it is the most destructive and the only species capable of unbalancing nature.
As to feeling pain or having emotions, even plants possess these abilities. Our instincts, not our brain, position our species high on our value list. That being said, the question is strictly cultural and psychological.
I won't eat my neighbor, but
In my case, there is an animal that has my heart. My dog has for years shown me companionship and unquestioned love and is a better “person” than many people I know. He does not lie, steal, cheat, or otherwise attempt to gain from others pain, and would probably protect me with his life. I would definitely save him before many other people in a life-or-death choice, but my species-favoring instincts would rule in the case of a child, who would come before even my own self-preservation instinct.
So what's your opinion?
Will you step on an ant, spray a roach, or shoot a deer? Would you run over a woman pushing a stroller or shoot up a college campus? How do you feel about cutting down trees, drying up marshes, harvesting baby citrus plants and squeezing them to death for a glass of orange juice? How do you value life and how do you differentiate by species?