Response to Prompt 1: Assigning Value to the Lives of Animals


            I feel that people will always have a difficult time in defining the value of a life and what kind of lives we should defend because of differing worldviews. When you look back to history, we’ve even been through times when we didn’t value every human as an equal- for example when there was still black and white segregation in the US. We as humans seem to like to differentiate things, not simply view and value something as simply being another life contributing to the world (no matter how big or small the contribution). To answer the question, I think our inability to define a common value because of all these differentiations is directly playing a role in forming an animal rights ethic.

            Optimally, we would define the importance of an animal’s life by simply having consciousness and being a life. I feel that, in valuing something simply for it’s existence, we allow ourselves to truly live by the Golden Rule. In other words, by living in a manner where we are treating every conscious thing the way we would want to be treated, everything is fair game. This may or may not change the way animals are seen and treated, but I feel like if we can value some animals as our pets and family, why can this not be extended to other animals, and then nature in itself?

            Lastly, the way I like to look at things is that if I don’t take care of and maintain things in my house, the house is going to be non-functioning and awful. Earth is our only true home, and if we abuse it and don’t take responsibility for our actions, it’s going to backfire and stop functioning in the same way. I feel that if everyone took this idea into mind, it would naturally change how we value things, animals included. 


2 responses »

  1. I really like the example you used in regards to how we even viewed some humans as less valuable in your white/black segregation example, however the only thing I am skeptical with in your piece is the section on giving value to things that have “consciousness.” There are many things in this would that do not have consciousness, but are abundant with so much beautiful life and are just as deserving of our respect and moral character. By unconscious “being” I do mean plant life, mountains, rivers, oceans, etc. However, how do we even measure consciousness or even what kind of value to place on these conscious or unconscious beings. So, as you said before this is a tricky situation because with so many different values swimming all over the place in this melting pot of world views it is hard to find a common ground in relation to animal ethics. I do agree with you on the aspect of creating a “common value.” I think that is a huge issue we are facing today and is indeed contributing to lack of animal rights.

  2. I did not even think of how different world views are even when talking about how people value human life around the world. There is still prejudice and discrimination in the world, based on some world views. According to some cultures, certain human life is valued higher than others. I believe that it is crucial for us as a society to assign the same high value to all human life, regardless of any identifying factors. One must first, in my opinion, learn to value and appreciate all human life before extending these values to animals, plants and even non-living things. Once we are able to assign these values to the organisms and living systems around us, then we are able to truly view the Earth as out home that we must steward.

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