The Instigator
Pirate
Pro (for)
Winning
18 Points
The Contender
larztheloser
Con (against)
Losing
15 Points

Humans are not different from animals.

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Post Voting Period
The voting period for this debate has ended.
after 6 votes the winner is...
Pirate
Voting Style: Open Point System: 7 Point
Started: 9/12/2010 Category: Society
Updated: 7 years ago Status: Post Voting Period
Viewed: 6,666 times Debate No: 13136
Debate Rounds (3)
Comments (24)
Votes (6)

 

Pirate

Pro

Humans, the species to which you and me belong to, are currently not considered animals by society. This is not the point on which Con should argue, but rather on the fact that they should or not be considered animals.

Human: "1. A member of the genus Homo and especially of the species H. sapiens."
http://www.thefreedictionary.com...

Animal: "1. A multicellular organism of the kingdom Animalia, differing from plants in certain typical characteristics such as capacity for locomotion, nonphotosynthetic metabolism, pronounced response to stimuli, restricted growth, and fixed bodily structure."
http://www.thefreedictionary.com...

Humans should therefore be included in the Animal cathegory, not only from a strict biological point of view but also socially. I am not saying humans should build houses for dogs or let apes vote, i'm saying we should consider animals to be equal to humans in rights.

Please, no arguments coming from your religion. I want you to prove that animals are fundamentaly different from humans.
larztheloser

Con

I'd like to welcome my opponent to this site and express my gratitude to him for opening this debate. I have 2 contentions and 2 points of rebuttal. But first, what are we actually asking ourselves here?

The issue is whether or not a human is different from an animal. "Animal" is a term scientists use to describe a wide range of living organisms. We have invented it, thus we can choose to include the human species in our definition or not. My case is that there are a number of good reasons why including humans in the animal kingdom is wrong.

On my opponent's definitions, my Webster's New Universal Unabridged dictionary gives two definitions for animal. One is the one my opponent cited. The other is "any such living thing other than a human being." I interpret the latter definition to be more accurate, my opponent insists otherwise. I do, however, agree with his definition of "human."

On to my rebuttal:
1. My opponent insists there that humans are one and the same, biologically, as the other creatures of the animal kingdom. I, however, contend that we are considerably more advanced in our cognitive ability. One need simply look at Wikipedia's page for humans: http://en.wikipedia.org.... You'll find headings for art (no animals), music (very few animals and scant evidence), literature (no animals), philosophy (no animals), self reflection (no animals), religion (no animals), language (few animals, all less advanced in structure and complexity) and so on. My point here is that our much-increased cognitive ability sets us apart from other animals biologically. Therefore there is a biological distinction between us and other animals.

2. My opponent insists that we are socially alike to animals. At least in my country, people do not act like animals. In fact, the people pride themselves on how they don't act like the animals. I'd like my opponent to list the ways in which we are socially alike to the animals.

Finally my substantive contentions:
1. As a species, we have MADE OURSELVES distinct from other animals. However, the scientific establishment that for the most part drove this movement, has defined us as being the same. We can't be the same and distinct at the same time. Therefore it's against the sum of all human progress to declare us animals. Either we are animals and we have not progressed, or we are not animals and we have. I think some of our scientific achievements are a testimony to this progression - how many whales have landed orbiters on Mars? How many lizards have built atomic bombs? How many llamas have built towers as large as our skyscrapers?

2. Viewing humans as animals has dangerous societal consequences. It was one of the key doctrines of both Hitler and Stalin, and was central to the beliefs of such infamous philosophers as Marx and Nietzsche. Therefore we should not view humans and animals as being the same. This has nothing to do with a religious objection, but rather that every system of normative ethics would agree that the moot falls. Several philosophical frameworks ie Platonic would also hold objection on other grounds.

3. As a related point to the above, giving animals the same status as humans suggests that they should have the same rights and responsibilities as humans. This, however, is insane because the animals are not clever enough to understand these rights or responsibilities. It's also retarded because of the animal's lack of moral judgement. See also: http://mises.org...

That's why I'm advocating your CON vote today.
Debate Round No. 1
Pirate

Pro

1. I would like to point out the likely biased nature of such a webpage, which as you know, is written by humans and based off human findings (which proves our superior cognitive ability, that i do not contest), which are obviously biased by said human's education that shows human supremacy as something we should have by right.
That being said, i have another thing to say. Art, literature, philosophy and religion are human concepts that don't need to apply for other animals for them to be considered our equals. (I consider religion as a default of humanity, as do many people too). literature comes from language, and i should remind you that humans existed long before the first letters were wrotten (by them). An-humans must have a form of self reflection that can't be as complex as ours (humans') since we have a language to express our notions. An-humans surely think about things such as "Dam, i'm hungry, i should go find a lizard to eat" in an intuitive way.

There are still too many things that biologically link us to an-humans for us to consider ourselves different because of one attribute. A bird is still an animal, even though it has wings.

2. Emotions link us to animals very deeply:
Love is recurent in many popular songs (pop-music); love is an emotion that ensures reproduction between members of the same species, and therefore the survival of the species. It is expressed by chimical substances that have nothing to do with our improved cognitive abilities.
This emotion is also what guides us through our lives, which leads people to marry, live with one person, and so on. Other animals act similarly, although some species don't spend their lives with one partner, which is also the case with humans (adultery, divorce, multiple girlfriends/boyfriends/wives/husbands...). This is a point in which we are very close to an-humans.

I am not qualified to develop the sociological aspect of animal behavior, so i'll stop here.

1. You could very well imagine any other animal species could attain our level with enough time to evolve (it wouldn't be the same species as the one from the beginning of course) and develop. We have the illusion things happened fast for us. But that's not true. 10^11, that's the number of humans that have stepped on Earth since we were apes. (it's aproximated http://en.wikipedia.org... ). Do you still think we have made great advancements, considering the number of humans it took?

2. I don't know Marx or Nietzsche as being infamous philosophers. The question is not: "What is better for society, and which one is more moral: humans being animals or humans not being animals?".

3. Those are human concepts. You can't apply everything we invent to an-humans. Can you make gradient maps? No, well birds can. They can't imagine living without it, nor would they live without it. The same way, there are different ways society could be organized in such a way that anhumans are given the same privileges.
Instead of integrating an-humans in our society, we should give them space for themselves (as opposed to occupying the whole planet and every single bit of land) and let them live with no human intervention. That's how we would consider them our equals in rights, give them freedom.
larztheloser

Con

I don't think my argument has been quite understood yet. Once again, there are no "objective" animals. "Animal" is just a term we have thrown on a large group of creatures. What we include and exclude from this group is up to us, exclusively. If there is a good reason why humans should not be counted as animals, then humans should be excluded from this group. It so happens that currently, humans are (biologically) defined as animals. But should they be defined as an animal? The biological similarities between humans and other animals is simply a result of how we have defined the term "animal" in the field of biology. I have shown, however, and my opponent does not deny, the possibility of defining animals on different biological terms, that excludes perhaps such traits as language and art. There is no necessity of defining humans as animals from a biological standpoint. That's why my opponent's biology point is at best moot. At worst, it actually helps my argument that we are flying in the face of technological progress, but I'll get to that point later.

For round 2 I have 4 other points to make, 1 rebuttal and 3 responses to my arguments.

1. My opponent insists that because we share instincts with animals, we must be defined alike. Surely the instinct of love is found even in bacteria (not animals)? Surely there are plants with the instinct of self-preservation (not animals)? The point is that emotions do not qualify an organism because they are impossible to measure (at least, until we invent accurate mind-reading devices). If you can't measure it, the qualification for an organism becomes uncertain, and that just moots the entire debate.

2. Responding to my first point, my opponent believes that animals have the capability for technological development. In fact, no animal has ever developed a new technological outcome. That's despite billions more animals having lived on this planet than humans. Not one single example of a developed technology. Why is this significant? Because the cause of our technological drive has been our investigative nature. However, the scientists who are at the forefront of this drive claim that humans are animals. This is an example of an inconsistent definition - on the one hand, humans and animals are grouped together, on the other hand they are distinguished. I think distinguishing is the better option because it legitimizes the work that these scientists, engineers etc do.

3. On the point of socially dangerous consequences of adopting the resolution, my opponent ignores the majority of my argument. His only case is his admiration for Marx and Nietzsche. The infamy of said philosophers is not the crux of my argument, however. An animalistic view of mankind leads to immoral behavior. Indeed, all four normative ethical frameworks are opposed to it. It discourages individualism because it encourages cheating the system. It places no importance on justice, indeed, given the lack of justice among animals it would even appear to be counter justice. It denies people moral rights because animals have no morals and thus no moral rights. It's counter to utilitarianism because humanity would prefer to be seen as human, not as an animal, as suggested by the very infrequent use of the term "animal" to describe a human being (and when it is used, it is always in a derogatory manner).

4. On my point about the necessity of assigning animals moral rights, my opponent finally comes up with a cogent model. However, his Utopian vision of an animal kingdom and a human kingdom is as silly as it sounds. We all share the same planet, thus we cannot help but influence each other, making freedom from human intervention about as crazy as humans having freedom from avian intervention. My opponent also says that morality is a human concept and thus should not be applied to animals. I agree! That's why the line needs to be drawn.

I will be awaiting my opponent's case. Please vote CON.
Debate Round No. 2
Pirate

Pro

And yet we do define animals based on biological traits. What if we classified living creatures by the colour of their hair? By the length of their intestines? By the shape of the beak? But we don't, we have the classification as it is and it's based on that that we might or not define humans as animals. This is material for another debate.

1. Love is more than an instinct, it's an emotion. It might be analogous to an instinct but it also has secondary effects such as hedonic sensations. Most bacteries duplicate themselves, they don't use sexual reproduction (http://en.wikipedia.org... , the first microbe with sexual reproduction). Those that do have a sexual reproduction don't have a brain and therefore can't feel love, they only act the same way they would if they did have a brain and could feel love.

I'm pretty sure you can't feel emotions, because there is no mind-reading device available. You go prove the opposite. By the attitude of an animal it's emotions can be seen.

2. "Responding to my first point, my opponent believes that animals have the capability for technological development. In fact, no animal has ever developed a new technological outcome"

What about apes? We evolved from them. Look at a chimp. Now think what we looked like millions of years ago. Look at your computer screen. It was made by a species that evolved from ape. Animals are able of technological advancement. Even if you don't consider us to be animals now, we had to come from something that you consider an animal, and that animal was able to evolve in something able to build ships and writte on a cellphone. That's what i said earlier:
"You could very well imagine any other animal species could attain our level with enough time to evolve (it wouldn't be the same species as the one from the beginning of course) and develop."

The fact that there were no other significant technological advancements (apes and birds know how to create and use simple tools) only means it's unlikely for an animal species to evolve in something able to create technology. Should we consider that another ape species is not an animal because they might evolve in some kind of "intelligent" species?

Where do you see them being distinguished? Every animal species is different from each other, should we create as many words to define their groups as there are species?

Legitimises their work? Come on...

3. How do you explain that children with completely different cultures share the same type of moral rules? Different cultures is not one from America and one from Europe. They tested it with completely different cultures. (I read about it in The God Dellusion by Richard Dawkins, don't know the source tho). Morality followed similar rules. Such as "it's ok to sacrifice someone to save others, but it's not ok to use someone (and kill them) to save others". The concrete example for the European kids was something like:

There's two people tied to a train track, and one to a bifurcation of the same train track. Is it ok to redirect the train towards the one person to save two people?

To which people answered majoritairly yes.

There's two people tied to a train track. Is it ok to take a fat man (that would be able to stop the train) and kill him to save the other two people?

To which people answered more "no" than in the first question.

They used an analogous question for kids from a different culture, and the results were similar.

First this shows that morality is not dependent on culture. It also proves that it's (most likely) intuitive. Why should humans be the only ones with a "sense" (of morality) that allows them to live in group? Do you see dogs bitting other dogs' necks while they sleep?

Humans don't prefer to be seen as |-|uman (with a big "h") than animal. Proof of this is that i started this debate and i'm human. I can't be completely different from every other human.

4. Cockroaches or rats live on the same planet as us and they don't interact with us. Since we're so smart, and intelligent, and moral, and artistic, and whatever else, we should be able to regulate our population to what it was 2000 years ago (35 times less or so) and leave an-humans some space. The truth is, we're occupying as much as we can, and this is an animal instinct, untill we can't occupy anything anymore. Do you think America would be well considered if we were intelligent and moral creatures? If this was the case we would rebel againsts our governments, Europeans, Americans, everything that force a polluting industry and nocious consumming habits on us. We're either not intelligent or not moral.
larztheloser

Con

Sorry for my belated reply, I had a law exam a few hours ago.

Responses to arguments:
1. Our ability to feel emotion is linked to our cognitive ability (which in humans, by the way, is far superior than in animals). But the source of our emotions is instinct, for instance, the emotion of fear is based on the instinct of self-preservation. This is not exclusive to animals, however. Bacteria that do reproduce sexually do feel love insofar as their cognitive ability allows. My opponent accepts that emotions are impossible to measure, for instance by his challenge to me, so logically he must accept my conclusion that they are not a good qualifier for what makes an animal or human.
2. My opponent believes that evolving is a technological development. Technically it isn't, because evolution is random and not designed (or at least, that is the scientific consensus, we won't go into the religious case here!) - but even if it was, it's not something that the animals achieved. It's something nature achieved. Animals do not produce independent technology and thus should still be differentiated.
3. In response to my point about ethics and justice, my opponent's response has been the denial of moral relativism. Firstly, I think that's a little beside the point. But I'll pretend, for the sake of debate, that it actually deals with my argument. Two responses. The first is that moral relativism is widely accepted. I'm sorry, I've got all this law stuck in my head so I can only name a few court cases, not real world examples: the People v Fumiko Kimura, People v Chen, People v Moua are some examples of US cases I can think of, plus lots of British, Australian and New Zealand ones (if you really want me to I might list a few in a comment). Second, moral relativism comes logically from ethics. It's in one of Aristotle's books on ethics somewhere.
On a lighter note, just because my opponent wants to be an animal doesn't make him one, unlike what his last sentence on this point suggests. I for one DON'T want to be considered an animal by my peers. I'll leave the final judgment to the voters.
4. Apparently overpopulation is caused by a lack of intelligence and morality. Now, I have an IQ of ~120, which means ~90.9% of the population are stupider than me (for the record, I know IQ tests are flawed, but they are the best we have for measuring intelligence). I'm also very well read in philosophical literature. Yet I am not rebelling against the governments you mentioned! Neither are my friends, many of whom are much smarter and more well-read than me. Intelligence does not cause rebellion - indeed, to paraphrase the wise sage Laozi, contentment is a mark of intelligence. On overpopulation, yes, I know that's a real problem and I think more needs to be done to solve it. But I also think this does not necessarily make us stupider than animals. We're smarter because we know how to make tools, not knowing how to use them wisely does not make us dumber (that's a gross oversimplification, I know, but the rule is right).

So now that we're at the end of this debate, what have we learnt? My opponent has attempted to justify why we are animals, then I refocused the debate and showed why we're not animals. I had 2 reasons for doubting his model and 2 for believing mine, which the debate has largely centered around. As you can see from my analysis above, all four have fallen to my side of the house in the debate today. I'd like to thank my opponent for making such a fun case to rebut, and do a last-second con-vote pitch. Not that I need to, of course!
Debate Round No. 3
24 comments have been posted on this debate. Showing 1 through 10 records.
Posted by Common_Sense_Please 7 years ago
Common_Sense_Please
Might just have to do that....
Posted by larztheloser 7 years ago
larztheloser
Latter of course!
Posted by Common_Sense_Please 7 years ago
Common_Sense_Please
A debate on whether it would be objective still? Or one on whether a human should be considered an animal? Because I am interested in the latter :)
Posted by larztheloser 7 years ago
larztheloser
PS feel free to challenge me to a debate on this!
Posted by larztheloser 7 years ago
larztheloser
But surely a definition of animal that excludes humanity would be equally objective? There is an actual observable phenomena-difference. No emotion or personal bias distorts this - because although the reason for it is, in a small way, emotive, the end resulting theory is not.
Posted by Common_Sense_Please 7 years ago
Common_Sense_Please
Definition of objective: "Undistorted by emotion or personal bias; based on observable phenomena." (wordnetweb.princeton.edu/perl/webwn).

As a kingdom in taxonomy, there are set characteristics for catagorisation. Within the scientiffic community, if an organism has these characteritics it is put into that kingdom. Emotion has no part in this process, and neither is personal bias.
Posted by larztheloser 7 years ago
larztheloser
What makes animal objective, other than the fact we say it is objective?
Posted by Common_Sense_Please 7 years ago
Common_Sense_Please
No, I don't think they should have equal rights, but they do deserve some rights. They are not something we have created and so can justafiably destroy, like robots. They are complex living organisms with a destinct desire for self-preservation. And of course you can differentiate humans from other animal groups. That's why we are our own species.

Whether you think it is wrong or not does not matter. We turn to the most objective classification system in biology and use that system to catagorise ever other animal, as well as ourselves. According to those classification systems we are indeed homo sapiens, of the mammalian class, which coincidently is inthe animalia kingdom. The question is: why should we be distict to the classification systems used to identify ever other living thing on he planet? It classifies our closest living ancesors, but suddenly we are exempt from it because our cognitive ability is more highly evolved? like it or not, animal has a scientfic definition that has set characteristics for catagorisation. The way we use the word animal nowerdays may lead down a different path, refering to animals lower down the evolutionary chain, but that is a misconception and has no baring on our classification biologically.
Posted by larztheloser 7 years ago
larztheloser
@Common_Sense_Please - Just because a term has consensus does not mean it's not subjective. "Relativity" had consensus for ~200 years. Today the definition seems to change every hour. The fact is that it's a grouping we have put on things on the basis of certain like characteristics. I think that humanity's classification along with other animals is dangerous and wrong. You seem to think otherwise, but that is your subjective opinion about whether it's enough to separate us from animals. I assume that you'd like to live in a Jacobean society? I assume that you believe humans and animals should be fully equal in rights? If not, then you'll be happy to know it is possible to differentiate humans from animals - if you only give up that opinion that any classification other than the consensus must be wrong!
Posted by Common_Sense_Please 7 years ago
Common_Sense_Please
Good point, but technically we can not classifiy the common ancestor because we have no physical evidence of it as yet.
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