The Instigator
Common_Sense_Please
Pro (for)
Winning
42 Points
The Contender
larztheloser
Con (against)
Losing
29 Points

Humans are right to be considered animals.

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Voting Style: Open Point System: 7 Point
Started: 9/28/2010 Category: Science
Updated: 4 years ago Status: Voting Period
Viewed: 6,497 times Debate No: 13237
Debate Rounds (3)
Comments (46)
Votes (14)

 

Common_Sense_Please

Pro

Hello, I will use this first round to state my position and define some terms.

I am for the position that Humans are rightfully considered as animals as stated in taxonomy. Con will be for Humans to be considered separate from animals in terms of taxonomy.

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

Human- Member of the species Homo Sapien (Latin: "wise man" or "knowing man").

Let me know if you have any problems with the definitions or anything else.

Cheers
larztheloser

Con

Obviously I have a problem with your definitions because they make the debate a truism! I'm going to accept your definitions except that I will add a second definition of animal - "Any such living thing other than a human being" (Webster's New Universal Unabridged Dictionary). It is my view that this second definition should be considered more accurate. My overall argument will be that there is no reason why a human should be considered an animal, and that doing so has serious negative ramifications for society. Given that the burden of proof is on my opponent, however, I invite him to open the substantive part of this debate.
Debate Round No. 1
Common_Sense_Please

Pro

After much deliberation, here is my opening argument.

According to taxonomy, Humans are defined into the following categories: (http://members.cox.net...)

Kingdom: Animalia
Phylum: Chordata
Class: Mammalia
Order: Primata
Family: Hominidae
Genus: Homo
Species: Homo sapiens

All other living things are defined using this catagorical system. Con's position is that Humans should not be classed a animals (as their kingdom would dictate); rather that they should be separated from the rest of their kingdom.

The question is; why should Homo sapiens be excluded from the kingdom animalia? It has all the correct characteristics for its assigned domain, kingdom, phylus, class, order, family, genus and species, and so any deviation from this must have significant scientific merit.

The truth is that humans do not have significant differences in order to create its own kingdom. Let's just show this in perspective; the other kingdoms are monera, protista, fungi and palntae. Humans do not even come close to being assigned to these kingdoms.

Likewise, to be assigned one of their own, they would have to show as many differences between other animals and humans as there are between other animals and plants, fungi, bacteria, or any other living thing within a different kingdom.

It is up to my opponent to show that humans have the significant differences to warrant their exclusion from the status of animal.
larztheloser

Con

I'd like to thank my opponent for this simplistic analysis. First I'm going to question why humans were put into the group of animals. Second I will look at how humans are fundamentally different from animals. Third I will consider society and why grouping humans with animals is negative for them. Finally I will sum up where all this is leading.

My opponent's case is this - that because some scientists say humans are animals, humans must be animals. There are three issues with this argument. First it's based off a personal blog from a computer programmer that has not been peer-reviewed, has not been updated since 2001 and is therefore not reliable - and I should add that the site does not even cite its sources! Second it's just an assertion, not an argument - just because I say there is a huge gem in my backyard does not require everyone else to disprove it, it requires me to prove it. In the same way, just because scientists say so does not mean I should have to disprove it, rather that those scientists should have to prove it. I have seen no categorical proof from my opponent. Third, it's downright absurd - do you bring sick people to an animal hospital? Does the RSPCA sell humans as pets? My opponent needs to defend his wacky definition of animal, which clearly is not our common usage of the word. In the comments, many have stated debates are not about definitions so I should drop this. I will not give in to that bullying. My opponent cannot assert a tautology and expect to win using an appeal to the authority of a website, just on the grounds that she so happens to be pro (sorry for getting your gender wrong last time, by the way!).

But I actually concede that many misguided scientists really believe humans are animals. Why do they believe this? It is a great misconception that just because we evolved from animals, we must be an animal. While we are certainly not fungi, plants etc, we could be something entirely different. We might even share the characteristics of an animal, just like animals share many characteristics with plants (both have DNA etc). Once fungi were included among plants, then we found reason to separate them and we did (http://en.wikipedia.org...). So creating an entirely new classification is not taboo in science and must be open as a possibility. Evolution provides no such rational. One could look then to the characteristics of an animal - except that there is really only a single trait that all animals share, this being heterotrophia (http://en.wikipedia.org...). Trouble is, animals are not the only heterotrophes (take fungi, for instance) so that isn't a good way of classifying animals either. Another reason why scientists think humans are animals is because they are capable of locomotion - despite the fact some other "animals" are not!

So you see there is really nothing holding the animal kingdom, as distinct from everyone else, together. The real truth is that scientists have just applied a great big label over a whole bunch of organisms. "Animal" is almost the default position, for everything that is non-plant, non-fungi and multicellular. Classes have more merit than kingdoms, orders still more than classes and so on. This is because the more limited you make the scope of your classification, the more similar your creatures become. Let's zoom down to a suitable level as I move on to my second point.

Consider humans as opposed to other members of the primates order (not primata as my opponent asserts, which I'm sure is French). Non-human primates live in very specific regions of the world and exhibit an extremely wide range of characteristics (http://en.wikipedia.org...). Humans, the only members of the homo genus, have a number of characteristics that simply do not fit with all the others. They live in many more conditions. Their brains are nearly three times the size of the next-closest primate brain (http://en.wikipedia.org...). 80% of the proteins in the human and chimpanzee genomes are different (http://www.whyevolution.com...). Humans are the only creatures within this or any other order that appears to exhibit metaphysical, aesthetic or moral awareness. The anatomical differences are too numerous to mention. There are real differences between humans and every other animal. The question is now whether these kinds of differences are enough to exclude humans from the primates order. If indeed they are, we have no longer any reason to include humans within animalia. Later I will show why it is not a good thing to include humans in some other order, in case my opponent is planning that attack.

I have two reasons for claiming that these differences are sufficient. First, because no other order is so diverse as to have a difference of 80% of proteins between two close biological members. If one were to plot a DNA equilibrium with a worm on one end and a human on the other, chimpanzees would be almost exactly in the middle - we are twice as far ahead as chimpanzees, compared to worms. Second, it's because of the sheer range of additional characteristics, especially the anatomical and cognitive differences. I cannot think of a single order other than primates that has so diverse a range of features. If humans were excluded primates would still be above average, but no longer the only outlier. This scientific discrepancy needs fixing now. There are two options - create a new order within animal, just for humans, or create a new kingdom for humans.

Of these two options, there are many reasons to prefer the latter. I have three reasons to bring this claim. First, it has dangerous philosophical ramifications. If humans are to view each other as animals it would be accepting cannibalism, it would be counter to every form of religion and normative ethical framework, and further it would be accepting the central premise of such kind men as Hitler and Stalin, with their doctrines that people are there to be manipulated like cattle. These are ramifications that I'm sure most would not be prepared to accept. Second it implies animals can claim equal rights and responsibilities to humans. This is absurd, first because it's impossible for humans to police this properly, but second because animals simply do not have the mental capacity to enter into this social contract. For example, humans need to be able to transfer endangered pandas from one zoo to another without going to court for human (which my opponent defines as "animal") trafficking. Third it's an insult to the scientific establishment that has made us distinct from animals through technology and research. What use are our arts and music if we are only "animals"? What use is this debating website?

Therefore I find the only reasonable conclusion remaining is that humans should not be animals. I should reinforce something I said at the start though. I do not need to make a prima face case. I am the defendant, and my accuser is yet to bring out any charge. I want to hear from her a logical reason why she is bringing her claim. Voters, don't vote on instinct, vote on reason. My opponent brings no arguments. All the arguments are on my side.
Debate Round No. 2
Common_Sense_Please

Pro

I simply chose that particular website as source because of the easily understandable presentation. If the taxonomy of humans is in question because of this, I could have sited any biology textbook that came to mind. The taxonomy of humans has been peer reviewed extensively and verified according to our scientific understanding to this date.

"Third, it's downright absurd - do you bring sick people to an animal hospital? Does the RSPCA sell humans as pets?" No. I think my opponent misunderstands my position. I do not think Humans are equal to other animals and I do not believe that they deserve the same rights within our society.

"My opponent needs to defend his wacky definition of animal, which clearly is not our common usage of the word." An animal is a biological term, which is defined as a member of the animalia kingdom. Whether the common usage of the word is exactly that has no bearing on the argument. People generally use ‘animal' to describe those lower on the evolutionary chain with lower cognitive ability. I can imagine why; every other creature in animalia has lower cognitive ability. However, just because people use the word like that in everyday language, does not mean that is what the word means. I know my opponent does not want this to come back to definitions, but it has to.
"Why do they believe this? It is a great misconception that just because we evolved from animals, we must be an animal." We evolved from single celled organisms too, and I am not arguing that we are bacteria. We are animals because we meet every criteria from a system which we categorise every other living thing with in order to be called an animal.
"We might even share the characteristics of an animal, just like animals share many characteristics with plants (both have DNA etc)." The differences between plants and animals outweigh the similarities. This is obvious, just like how the similarities between animals and humans biologically, staggeringly outweigh the differences.
"Consider humans as opposed to other members of the primate's order." Chimpanzees are our closest relatives that are branded as animals socially and biologically, and we have to look at why they are considered animals in con's opinion and we are not.
"Humans, the only members of the homo genus, have a number of characteristics that simply do not fit with all the others. They live in many more conditions. Their brains are nearly three times the size of the next-closest primate brain (http://en.wikipedia.org......). 80% of the proteins in the human and chimpanzee genomes are different (http://www.whyevolution.com......). Humans are the only creatures within this or any other order that appears to exhibit metaphysical, aesthetic or moral awareness. The anatomical differences are too numerous to mention. There are real differences between humans and every other animal."
First: ‘aesthetic awareness' with aesthetic being defined as ‘concerning or characterized by an appreciation of beauty or good taste': All animals choose mates, and within a certain species there are certain characteristics that are preferable for reproduction. You could call this beauty could you not? (Definition of beauty: the qualities that give pleasure to the senses wordnetweb.princeton.edu/perl/webwn). Animals are aesthetically aware in order to choose the best mate and reproduce successfully.
Second: ‘moral awareness'. The following link is a newspaper article explaining just one scientist's work observing moral behaviour in primates. http://www.nytimes.com.... Many scientists believe that morality is not a human trait and it was evolved to ensure social harmony, so naturally it would be observed in other animals. (http://www.independent.co.uk...).
"The question is now whether these kinds of differences are enough to exclude humans from the primates order." Yes, there are some biological differences between humans and our closest living primates. However, there are a huge number of differences between those primates and, say, an earthworm. Yet both these creatures are both socially (and biologically) considered as animals. So how can something as so biologically different to a primate as an earthworm be considered an animal, but something as so relatively similar as humans be excluded?
"Sheer range of additional characteristics, especially the anatomical and cognitive differences." Any anatomical differences are minute compared to that of animals lower in the evolutionary chain, as stated before, and the only cognitive difference is an increased ability.
"Create a new order within animal, just for humans, or create a new kingdom for humans." The first option would still class humans as animalia. A new kingdom would only be created if humans show as many differences to other animals as with plants, bacteria ect,
"First, it has dangerous philosophical ramifications." I do not believe that philosophical ramifications have a bearing in the debate. Hypothetically, if Humans are shown undisputedly to be animals but some people may skew that fact into their own philosophy, should it be discounted?
"If humans are to view each other as animals it would be accepting cannibalism, it would be counter to every form of religion and normative ethical framework." How would it accept cannibalism? If we are biologically animals it does not change our social taboos. If we accept ourselves as animals, that does not mean that we have to act the same as evolutionarily lower animals. We are our own species with social pressures and taboos put in place to ensure evolutionary success. Whether it is counter to religion or ethical framework is not an issue here.
"Hitler and Stalin, with their doctrines that people are there to be manipulated like cattle." I do not see how this is relevant. These people's views on humanity does not have a bearing on whether we are actually animals or not.
"Second it implies animals can claim equal rights and responsibilities to humans." No it does not. Just as just because cockroaches and cats are both animals, we do not give them both the same rights. Killing a cockroach has no ramifications, but killing a cat is animal cruelty. Humans are animals, but we are also evolutionarily superior which gives us the right to assign ourselves higher rights within our society.
"Third it's an insult to the scientific establishment that has made us distinct from animals through technology and research. What use are our arts and music if we are only "animals"? What use is this debating website?" This is an absurd argument. Our higher cognitive ability (a characteristic of our species) allows us to create and enjoy art and music and to design new technology. The question here is whether that cognitive ability warrants us a separate kingdom.
Through my opponents arguments I conclude that they consist of:
1)Biological differences between humans and other animals. (They do not come close to the differences between creatures of other kingdoms)
2)Social differences between humans and other animals. (Higher cognitive ability leading to more copmplex social structure does not warrant a different kingdom.)
3)Philosophical ramifications. (Irrelevant on whether we are actually animals or not.)
My opponent fears that if we are considered animals we suddenly lose all purpose in life and are as socially aware as other animals. We are animals, but we are also humans: a species that is cognitively superior and socially complex. Personally I think that the main reason for people not wanting to be called animals is because they think it lowers their status as a living being. It doesn't. You are an animal first, then a vertebrate, then a mammal, then a primate, then a hominid, and then our own species, homo sapien, encompassing all our complex and distinguishifrom other animals in shown by our own species, but overall, we are still animals.
larztheloser

Con

I'd like to thank my opponent for her rebuttal, but where is that argument I asked for? My opponent still fails to provide any rational for her model. For this last round I'll rebut her rebuttal, defending my case, and sum everything up. I'll use the same order as my opponent, for clarity.

0) Definitions ):
My opponent admits he is using a highly specialized form of the word "animal" that people dismiss "everyday." I encourage voters to dismiss it today with their votes.

1) Biological
Here my opponent admits the differences, but claims they are trivial. Three responses. First, a 2-celled organism may be exceedingly similar to a bacteria, but we don't class it as such because of a trivial difference. It was a trivial difference that initially separated plants and fungi. Second, they are not trivial. I think my opponent would be hard pressed to find many animals that do not fall between an earthworm and a chimpanzee in DNA structure. Humans do not only fail to fall within this range, they are beyond it by a wide margin. As mentioned we are as far from a chimp as a chimp is from an earthworm, and my opponent fails to respond to this point. Third, my opponent cannot admit a cognitive difference and claim biological differences are trivial. The two are inherently linked. Our DNA gives us our brain. The overall point is that there are more differences between me and a chimpanzee, than there are between a one celled and a two celled creature.

2) Social
I did not actually make any strictly social points. Nonetheless, my opponent admits differences ("I do not think Humans are equal to other animals..."), but has a few similarities to offer. First she rants on about "aesthetics" - apparently you cannot love and not have an appreciation of beauty. First subpoint, again, this is an assertion by my opponent. No source is provided. Second subpoint, within human culture, the sense of aesthetics is far more refined even if what you're saying is true. I'd like to cite the lack of any Picasso, Da Vinci, Michelangelo etc among any animals ever.
Second, my opponent claims moral awareness in animals. There are two problems with this. First, morality is not a set of behaviors, as was observed at the zoo cited by my opponent. It is more than that. It is the actual evaluation of these actions (see http://blogs.reuters.com...). Second, the morality exhibited by the primates in the park is, according to the article, of a much "lower level," indicating that any animal morality may be nothing more than bias - that is, by looking for morality you might find some simple features of it even if morality does not exist.
Later, my opponent claims animals are not equal legally. This is true. The law is practically divided into law for humans (if they are animals, which legally they are not), farm animals, pets and other animals. The law for humans is, however, the odd one out. Humans have such a wide range of differing rights and responsibilities that to not give like creatures similar rights would be irresponsible. Are humans like animals? The legal view is no.

3) Philosophical
My opponent misunderstands my use of philosophical argument. It's not to differentiate humans and animals, it is that since humans are in the wrong order, should they change order or kingdom? Philosophical frameworks can help us make that judgment, so to state they have no bearing on the debate is an unjustified assertion. Religion can help us make that judgment, as can ethics. One does not dismiss their wisdom by ignoring it, rather by refuting it, which my opponent fails to do. The fact most people eat animals, and that this is a social norm, can help us make that judgment. History can help us make that judgment. My opponent cannot simply dismiss the fact that all of the above give us good reason to shift to another kingdom (it's just an arbitrary bound after all).

Now to conclude, what has this debate been about. My opponent attempted two things - first a win by definition, then a win by appeal to authority. Neither of these are good grounds for the moot "Humans are right to be considered animals," so any additional argumentation by me was simply out of the goodness of my heart, to keep the debate interesting. In round two I took you on a bit of a journey, on why I don't believe the classification of humans is right. My opponent attempted some simple rebuttals at this which I have dealt with above. So I have this case, take it or leave it. Whether or not you do, pro has failed to provide any convincing evidence, and has thus lost our little quarrel. Please, please, please vote for the side that has given you logical arguments, sound reasoning within those arguments and has not attempted to resort to cheap tricks in order to try to win this debate. Personally I would have found these things self-evident - one might even say, common sense. Apparently not.
Debate Round No. 3
46 comments have been posted on this debate. Showing 1 through 10 records.
Posted by nephilim 3 years ago
nephilim
"2001: A Space Odyssey." A Darwinist theory of space time continuum.
Posted by feverish 4 years ago
feverish
@larz: I guess conduct is pretty subjective by nature and your opinion of her arguments is fair enough, I just don't see the need for talking down so much to an opponent who's being reasonable. I suppose common was setting herself up for an easy win, which she certainly didn't get as you argued strongly, but I think she made it clear that she was defining the word on a scientific, taxonomic basis, while your counter definition was clearly a more colloquial meaning.

Roy actually criticised my conduct in a debate with him http://www.debate.org... partly because he felt I had misconstrued his definition (of the word idiot), although I felt he left it way more open than common_sense did here. Hope there's no hard feelings anyway and best of luck in future debates.
Posted by Common_Sense_Please 4 years ago
Common_Sense_Please
The conduct is no skin off my nose. This wasn´t one of my best debates, I´m just settling in again. Also, I know I scream masculinity through every pore of my body as other quake beneath me...but MGTandP, I am indeed female :)
Posted by larztheloser 4 years ago
larztheloser
When my opponent says "I defined the moot as true therefore I win" (not in those words, but words to that effect), surely it is within my rights to call that simplistic? When my opponent admits that his definition is not the common one, surely it is within the definition bound of "wacky" to use it? When my opponent attempts to win on a tautology and advances no other arguments for the entire debate, surely that's a cheap trick in anyone's book? And yes, I guess I do believe that actually rationalizing a case on a debating website is common sense. I'm not scornful of my opponent, but I am very scornful of the argument, which really wasn't an argument at all - particularly when I actually bothered to put a little bit of time into thinking about what would make a good counter-case. I guess then in future all I need to do is run really bad arguments to win everyone's conduct vote...
Posted by feverish 4 years ago
feverish
Perhaps "kind of rude" is going a bit far, sorry larz. I did however notice that you were quite scornful.

"simplistic analysis", "wacky definition", "cheap tricks" and implying a lack of common sense would be some examples of this.
Posted by MTGandP 4 years ago
MTGandP
Pro's arguments were better overall, but the deck was stacked in his favor given that the scientific consensus is on his side. Con did quite well considering the circumstances.
Posted by larztheloser 4 years ago
larztheloser
@feverish - how? The most rude I ever was, was when I said pro's arguments were illogical.

Right from the start I did not accept a debate with pro's definitions. I accepted the moot. There is no obligation on me to accept the definitions if I have good grounds for doing otherwise. Making the debate tautological is a good ground.
Posted by feverish 4 years ago
feverish
Con accepted the debate with Pro's definitions and then tried to shift the goalposts. I think Pro convincingly established that humans are a kind of animal, regardless of the obvious differences between us and other animals. Con was also kind of rude.
Posted by sadolite 4 years ago
sadolite
I agree with Roy. On a different note Pro does not consider the unintended consequences of considering oneself an animal. I recently put a price on the value of my cat. It was $900. I was not going to spend that amount of money to keep it alive. I wounder who pro would allow to put a value on his/her life. Also not considered is a court of law. Are you an animal or are you a human. I am sure pro would immediately be a human in both cases and would not try to make the humans are animals argument in either case.
Posted by sadolite 4 years ago
sadolite
I agree with Roy. On a different note Pro does not consider the unintended consequences of considering oneself an animal. I recently put a price on the value of my cat. It was $900. I was not going to spend that amount of money to keep it alive. I wounder who pro would allow to put a value on his/her life. Also not considered is a court of law. Are you an animal or are you a human. I am sure pro would immediately be a human in both cases and would not try to make the humans are animals argument in either case.
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