I see an apparent problem in common intuitions about value/rights of living things. I believe most people would agree creatures such as dolphins deserve higher value and more rights than other creatures such as squirrels. Why? Most would likely answer it is because of the dolphin’s higher rationality/brain function. Yet, when we look at the humans living around us, it is undeniable that we have varying levels of rationality/brain function ourselves. Despite our varying levels of rationality, we believe humans deserve basic equal rights/value. This seems contradictory, doesn’t it? When we look at animals we say their intelligence determines their value, but when we look at ourselves we say we’re equal despite our individual levels of intelligence.
There is only one way I see to reconcile these two apparently contradictory views most of us share. That is to conclude that the value of living things must be determined by the rationality of their KIND (aka species), not the INDIVIDUAL. We must look at the collective rationality of Humans as a whole, and treat each of them equally based upon that measure; regardless of the specific rationality of any given individual. The same must be done for all KINDS of living creatures – squirrels, dolphins, frogs, space aliens, etc. The result is that all living things of the same species must be treated equally to one another, but that living things of differing species have varying levels of value. All dolphins are the same, all dogs are the same, all humans are the same. But a human child is still more valuable than an adult dolphin, even if that individual dolphin is more rational than that individual human child, because the human KIND is more rational than the dolphin KIND.
This is the only reasonable way I can find to reconcile these intuitions. But the thing is – this is an inherently Pro-life view. This could be called a “substance view”. The implication is that even pre-born humans in the womb MUST be treated the same in regards to their basic rights (e.g. right to not be killed) as a toddler, teenager, or adult would be treated in the same situation.
If you simultaneously believe all born humans are inherently equal, and believe that some animals deserve more rights than others, I think you have to be Pro-life…