The Instigator
Pro (for)
7 Points
The Contender
Con (against)
4 Points

An animal's life is worth just as much as a human's.

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Post Voting Period
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after 3 votes the winner is...
Voting Style: Open Point System: 7 Point
Started: 11/20/2013 Category: Miscellaneous
Updated: 3 years ago Status: Post Voting Period
Viewed: 2,481 times Debate No: 40966
Debate Rounds (3)
Comments (1)
Votes (3)




It is my strong and firm belief that the lives of animals are worth the same as a human's. Note that when I say this, I mostly mean household pets like dogs and cats. Therefore, I believe that animals should be treated in an equal manner to humans; they should be entitled to rights and protection in the same way as a human.


This sounds like it could be interesting. I look forward to hearing your arguments.

Since the burden of proof is on you, I will not attempt to show that animals are not equal to humans in worth. Instead, I'll just try to refute your arguments. Or, if you persuade me, I'll concede.

Good luck!
Debate Round No. 1


My first argument is that our pets have saved many, many human lives in the past. There are many counts of dogs and cats (especially dogs) saving their owners from a variety of dangers. Dogs have defended humans from wild animals, fires, and drowning. Cats, too, are good at alerting their owners to danger. Animals save human lives just the same as humans do. They also serve the police and fire department and have been extremely helpful to them. To sum all that up, animals save lives and serve our protection forces well. They have done no less than humans have. And yet we still regard them as being worth less than us.

And don't tell me that animals have killed humans, too. That may be true, but humans do that too. A lot more than animals do, in fact. But homicide is unrelated to the topic, so I digress. Just wanted to point that out.


I think this debate would go better if Pro had explained what he meant by a life having "worth" in his opening. I took him to mean something like intrinsic worth, and I expected him to argue that killing an animal is just as immoral as killing a human.

But now it appears that he was talking, not about intrinsic worth, but instrumental worth. Instrumental worth is the relative worth something or someone has depending on how useful or appreciated they are.

That creates some ambiguity with the resolution. If he means to say that all dogs and cats are worth as much as all humans, then his resolution is false. After all, not even every dog has equal worth. Some dogs are useless and some are very helpful. The same is true with humans.

If he means that there is at least one dog out there who has the same intrinsic worth of at least one human out there, then I'd have to concede the debate. I'm not going to concede it just yet because I'm not sure what his original intent was.

Here's anotherh difficulty with his resolution and his defense. Let's say there's a drug sniffing dog who is really good at what he does. In that case, the dog would have a lot of worth to the police officers who use him to catch criminal. But that dog wouldn't be worth a hill of beans to the criminals who don't want to be caught! So the same dog can be both very worthy and completely unworthy depending on who you ask. There's no objective truth to the quesiton of worth the dog has any worth. It's relative to the people who value them or don't value them.

That's the nature of instrumental worth. The same dog or human can have a great deal of instrumental worth to one person but no worth at all to another person. Instrumental worth is necessarily a relative or subjective thing. There can't be any such thing as objective instrumental worth.

So if pro means to say that objectively an animal's life is worth just as much as a human's, his resolution can't possibly be true. If he means to make a relative claim, as he should, then how will you judge the debate? There's no right or wrong answer. To him, dogs may have the same instrumental worth as humans, and to me they don't.

But let's suppose that what he means is that when you compare how instrumentally worthy dogs and cats have been to humans to how instrumentally worthy humans have been to each other, they are about equal. Given how he argued, that seems to be what he meant.

I question whether it's true, though. I grant that dogs and cats have had a great deal of instrumental worth to various people, but what evidence is there that they have had just as much instrumental worth as humans have had to each other. It seems to me that under this understanding of the resolution, humans have far greater instrumental worth than dogs and cats for the following reasons:

1. We typically love our brothers, sisters, children, and parents more than we love our pets.

2. Almost all of us have friends and family, but not all of us have pets.

3. While a dog can provide protection from time to time, humans are more reliable and effective in that regard. Even police dogs would be utterly useless without the guidence of their human masters. Far more humans have died defending their country than dogs or cats.

4. Humans bring much more to a relationship than dogs or cats. If you marry a human, you can share the chores, have deep and intimate conversations, procreate, and take them with you pretty much anywhere without having to pick up their poop.

In the next round, I hope that Pro will explain to us very clearly what he means by the resolution, taking account of all the different ways it could be interpreted.

Thank you.
Debate Round No. 2


I apologize, I should have clarified; I mean to say that pets are equal in BOTH intrinsic value and instrumental value. I should have made this clear. I am saying that it is equally immoral to kill an animal as a human, and that an animal is worth just as much as a human. I am trying to make a point that animals should be treated as being worth just as much as a human. My first argument was centered around their instrumental value, but I have another argument which I will get to in a few moments.

Now, I question some of your 4 statements at the end. While your 3rd and 4th statements were valid, I question the first two.

1. Many of us care about our pets just as much as our family, and consider them to be a part of our family. This is a relative statement, and cannot be called valid.

2. I would argue that this does not make a relationship with a pet any less special than a relationship with a friend or family member. Something that is more common or applies to everyone, is not necessarily better than something that applies to less people.

Now, I have a second argument to make, which is that, overall, the human race has less moral fiber than dogs and cats. Dogs, in particular, are respectful, kind, and obedient, and cats display some of these qualities as well. Humans, while this does not apply to every single one of them, have a tendency to be selfish, disrespectful, defiant, and uncaring of consequences. Again, many humans are great people, but this is an overview of our general race, not its specific people. Humans have done much to both the Earth and its other species in its pursuit of luxury and comfort. Animals have contributed nothing to this. Who created pollution? It certainly wasn't a dog or cat, or any kind of an animal. Humans have destroyed habitats, captured animals just for people's entertainment, and drained most of the Earth's resources, all to benefit itself. Animals don't do any of these things. Animals are pure of heart and know their place, while humans seem to think they are the most important species in the world, when in reality they are the most destructive. What I am saying here is that we have no right to say that animals are less valuable than us. Their emotional ranges are equal to ours, and they, at least, aren't openly destructive of their environment and every living thing in it.

A last note that I would like to add (this is entirely subjective), is that a relationship with a pet is something just a special as a relationship with a friend. A pet IS a friend, in fact, and can also be considered a part of a family. When I need somebody to talk to or interact with, I tend to turn to my dog and/or cat. And a lot of people feel the same. Their intrinsic value is something that is hard to argue because it is, as I said, subjective, but I have tried my best here.

In conclusion (since this is the last round), from my first point, animals are quite helpful to us. I'll give you that they don't help us as much as we do, but they do help us. They also, at least, don't kill us for no reason like we do ourselves. From my second point, animals are purer of heart than we are and have more moral fiber considering that they don't destroy us and our world like we do theirs.


In response to my claim that "We typically love our brothers, sisters, children, and parents more than we love our pets," Pro said, "Many of us care about our pets just as much as our family, and consider them to be a part of our family." His response does not negate my claim because "many" does not contradict "typically." I can grant that many people care just as much for their pets as they do their family, but still maintain that typically people don't. If you asked the average parent whether they'd rather you shoot their dog or their daughter, they'd choose the dog because they value the daughter much more. And most of us would consider a parent to be a barbarian if they so much as had difficulty making that choice.

In response to my claim that "Almost all of us have friends and family, but not all of us have pets," Pro said, "Something that is more common or applies to everyone, is not necessarily better than something that applies to less people." That is a good point, but let me explain my meaning a little further. Pro is making a general claim about animals in his resolution, and he argued from how useful animals have been to humans. My point is that if fewer people have benefited from animals than have benefited from other people, then in general, people have more instrumental worth than animals.

There are some people who value their pets more than other humans, but I think they are wrong to do so. For example, I have a friend with PTSD, and she has a service dog she takes everywhere with her to keep her from having anxiety attacks. Her dog is her best frien, and she scarcely has any human friends. So you'd think she benefits from her dog more than from humans. But consider what goes unnoticed. Humans made the clothes she wears. Humans made the apartment she lives in. Humans made the truck she drives. Humans trained her dog. Humans pay the taxes that go to support her since she is a disabled vet. And that money goes to buy dog food for her dog as well. She may not notice how valuable humans are to her because she doesn't have as much face time with them as she does with her dog, but that doens't mean they are worth less than the dog just because she doesn't notice.

Pro attempts to argue that animals also have equal intrinsic value with humans. I don't think any of his arguments support that view. He says that animals have better moral fiber than humans. But moral fiber doesn't add or subtract to intrinsic value. Intrinsic value is the value something has because of what it is. All humans have equal intrinsic value even though some are more moral than others. So the morality of animals is not relvant to their intrinsic value. It is only relevant to their instrumental value.

But besides that, pro hasn't given a very good argument for why we should think animals have moral fiber at all. We don't know that animals behave out of any sense of right and wrong like we do. They simply act on instinct or on what they are trained to do. They don't have "pure hearts." I doubt animals are even capable of moral reasoning, i.e. understanding the concept of justifying their actions or having morally justifiable reasons for their actions.

Pro points out that while humans destroy the earth, animals don't. But animals don't care about preserving the earth like many humans do. The only reason they aren't destroying it is because they can't. They're not as technologically advanced as we are. But cats and dogs have been known to be destructive of wildlife. Cats kill for the pleasure of it, and they don't care if it's a mocking bird. Dogs kill cats for the sport of it without any regard for the cat owner. Humans are the only species that sacrifice for the sake of other species. It is our species that protects animals, putting them on endangered species lists, forbid hunting them, etc. Animals that hunt give no thought to wildlife preservation.

Pro points out again that the relationship a person has with their pet can be just as special as with their friends. I grant that. But it's not enough to support his resolution, which is that animals in general or all animals have the same worth as humans in general or all humans. There are always going to be exceptions, but you can't make a general claim based on exceptional cases. The fact that some people value their pets just as much as their friends does not support the claim that the lives of animals are just as valuable as the lives of humans, in general.

Pro admits in the end that animals don't help us as much as we do, which negates his claim that animals have equal instrumental worth with humans.

Thank you for coming to tonight's debate, and thanks to Pro for sharing your thoughts and arguments.
Debate Round No. 3
1 comment has been posted on this debate.
Posted by 303zlari 3 years ago
From a Catholic view, God made humans above all except God himself, which means that humans are not equal to animals, but superior to animals. God did not intend for us to treat animals wrongly, but treat them with the respect that animals deserve.
3 votes have been placed for this debate. Showing 1 through 3 records.
Vote Placed by PotBelliedGeek 3 years ago
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Reasons for voting decision: A slim win to Con. Niether used sources, and both had excellent conduct and S&G. Con scored with pointing out ambiguity in Pro's initial arguments, and again in illustrating intrinsic and materialistic values of animals vs humans.
Vote Placed by johnlubba 3 years ago
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Reasons for voting decision: Con muddled up his logic by thinking that an animals worth is relative to each person, instead of actually taking the animals life itself into account and not what the animals life is worth relatively but instead absolutely. Using the perspective of a criminal on the run who holds no value over the animals life was a weak argument, Also I found most of Cons arguments to also be relative and not absolute and Pro Points this out. I found the only good argument from Con was the option to save your daughter or your pet, but even in this instance it would take nothing away from what the animals life was worth, maybe you'd favour saving your daughter over your pet, obviously if you had to face that option. But it wouldn't make the animals life less worthy, it just means you have a choice to make between the two and certainly we would choose to save our own daughter over our pets. But it wouldn't mean the animals life is less worthy it just means, "You" decided to save your daughter.
Vote Placed by Putt-Putt 3 years ago
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Total points awarded:41 
Reasons for voting decision: I loved this debate, as a firm believer in animal rights and equality between animals, I sided with Pro. Of course, this does not mean I vote solely on personal beliefs, I vote based on the content provided, and this one goes to Pro. No one provided sources, so I left that field tied.