Philosophical Studies

, Volume 174, Issue 6, pp 1517–1538 | Cite as

On the relative value of human and animal lives

  • Mark BernsteinEmail author


It has become virtually a matter of dogma—among both philosophers and laypersons—that human lives are (objectively) more valuable than animal lives. One argument for this claim dominates the philosophical literature and, despite its employment by a host of philosophers, should be found wanting. I try to show that this line of reasoning, as well as one that is less popular but still with significant appeal, are faulty. The errors in each argument seem fatal: the pervasive argument begs the question, and the more selective is, at bottom, unintelligible. We should judge that the lives of humans and animals are equally valuable, an assessment that should be accompanied by major changes in some of our fundamental practices.


Human Animal Value Value of lives ‘Disvalue of death’ argument Mill 


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media Dordrecht 2016

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Purdue UniversityWest LafayetteUSA

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