Should Life Be Respected?
We should have respect for life, even if it’s not human life.
This is not a Q1 violation unless you do not consistently respect life. It may also be a violation if you do not define "respect" and "life" rigorously, or you intend the statement to mean that all life should be respected equally, but you respect human life more than animal life.
This statement may be a Q2 violation if your justification for respecting life is not objective.
Although the statement is simple on the surface, it relies on two terms that may be difficult to define — "respect" and "life."
What does it mean to respect life? Does it mean minimizing suffering? Not causing harm? Not wasting life? Not killing anything? Just treating living things as innately important?
Defining life is not much easier in this context. Do germs count? Should we have respect for non-animal life? At what point is something considered alive? Are things that are no longer alive included? Should some types of life — intelligent life or animals that have relationships with humans, for example — receive more respect?
Even after terms are defined, there are a couple of ways that this statement could result in a Q2 violation. For example, if the justification for respecting life is that God created life or that God wants people to respect life, then other people may be able to use the same reasoning ("you must respect what God has created" or "you must obey God") to reach conclusions you would not approve of.
By Q2, it’s pretty clear that some amount of respect is due at least to human life. If you think otherwise, then you are saying that you would not disapprove of someone who did not respect your life, and that works against the assumption that you want to survive.
Which of these actions do you think are morally justified? Are they justified or unjustified because life should be respected, or for other reasons?
- Keeping a fish as a pet.
- Keeping a dog as a pet.
- Keeping a chimpanzee as a pet.
- Praising your cat for killing a mouse.
- Chastising your cat for killing a baby bird.
- Killing a wolf because it’s attacking a deer.
- Killing overabundant wolves to save endangered deer.
- Killing overabundant deer to stop the herd from running out of food.
- Hunting deer for food.
- Hunting deer for sport.
- Helping a deer that was caught by a rock slide, even though you are a hunter and may be trying to kill it later in the day.
- Hanging the head of an animal on the wall as a trophy.
- Playing a deer-hunting video game.
- Raising animals so they can be killed for their fur.
- Raising sheep so they can be shorn for their wool.
- Stuffing animals that died of natural causes for museum display.
- Killing animals to stuff them for museum display.
- Tagging animals so they can be tracked for scientific purpose.
- Hiring an exterminator to rid your house of insects.
- Driving your car into a ditch in order to avoid a cow in the road.
- Driving your car into another car in order to avoid a cow in the road.
This post is based on an excerpt from Ask Yourself to be Moral, by D. Cancilla, available at LuLu.com and Amazon.com. See the 2Q system page for details of the philosophical system mentioned in this post.