Instigator / Pro
2
1516
rating
1
debates
100.0%
won
Topic

Are Viruses alive?

Status
Finished

All stages have been completed. The voting points distribution and the result are presented below.

Voting points
2
0

With 2 votes and 2 points ahead, the winner is ...

an_illusion6
Parameters
More details
Publication date
Last update date
Category
Science
Time for argument
Twelve hours
Voting system
Open voting
Voting period
One week
Point system
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Rating mode
Rated
Characters per argument
30,000
Contender / Con
0
1484
rating
1
debates
0.0%
won
Description
~ 24 / 5,000

epic off-season debating

Added:
--> @MagicAintReal

Think I’d be up for that, though I may want to challenge the basic definition of life if this is it.

Added:
--> @whiteflame

Ok, I might put up the debate on the open debates and you can accept it if you like my definitions, so I don't flood these guys' debate comments section.

Added:
--> @MagicAintReal

If that is living, then there would be a lot more excluded from this definition than I'd previously expected. Case-in-point: spores. Bacterial and fungal spores are about as passive as it gets, built to last and survive harsh environments and little else. They aren't battling the environment, they simply withstand what the environment can dish out. The same holds true for viruses. I'd still say spores are living, despite their passivity. Similarly, I'd say that any organism that requires another organism's metabolism to perform its own basic processes is not autonomous.

It is really cool. If you look up huge viruses like the Mimivirus or Pandoravirus and check out their virophages, you'll see some really awesome pictures.

Added:
--> @whiteflame

I didn't put it in my 5 to be alive, but it is in the definition of life, because life is actually just a property of organic compounds when they are no longer passive and are actively recruited to fight for the system's survival. Living is an active battling of the environment and the characteristics necessary to have that battle are what define life.
Not having this autonomous characteristic makes it like a passive organic compound whose activity is at the direction of something autonomously living.

I didn't know about parasites for viruses, that's fucking cool, and it does speak to viruses' ability to behave like life.

Added:
--> @MagicAintReal

There are viruses that have all the tools required for their metabolism within their capsids and are themselves parasitized by other viruses, so in a sense, yes. I will note, however, that the definitions do not include an "autonomous" requirement.

Added:
--> @whiteflame

Are there viruses that autonomously metabolize?

Added:
--> @MagicAintReal

To make a long story short, I find that it's human-centric. The history of how we define life starts with how we define what makes us alive, and then slowly expands as discoveries of bacteria that didn't quite fit that definition began. Some of those defining characteristics don't even fit some bacteria very well, particularly those that are obligate parasites. Honestly, though, I just have trouble understanding why this set of traits are required for life, particularly the first and third. What is so special about cellular organization? What is it about having a membrane that makes one alive? I can only understand that through the view that we are defining life as similar to ourselves. The same goes for homeostasis, which is required for the survival of membrane-bound organisms, but not for viruses. While I understand these choices as narrowing down what life is, I can only justify them if I'm deliberately trying to exclude that which does not fit neatly into these categories, though I can also argue that some viruses fit all 5.

Added:
--> @whiteflame

So this topic was actually the essay topic for our district's benchmark assessment, and the curriculum explicitly states viruses cannot be living because they've no cellular organization, and since it's an all or nothing concept, students basically have to argue one way.
That being said, the arguments for viruses essentially behaving identically to life and perhaps being a precursor to it are compelling, but what is your major contention with the "need 5 to be alive" mantra?

Added:
--> @MagicAintReal

Yep, I remember it well.

Added:
--> @whiteflame @Bifolkal

You guys should debate this, but I'm wondering if either of you were taught in biology the old rule "You need all 5 to be alive" the five characteristics being:
1. have cellular organization
2. able to inherit traits
3. maintain homeostasis
4. reproduce
5. metabolize/grow

Added:
--> @Bifolkal

I noticed, doesn’t seem like it was much of a debate, though. Be happy to debate you on it, though. I’d argue they’re alive.

Added:

Btw, no cells, no life...done.

Added:
--> @whiteflame

it's finished,

Added:

Let me know when this is finished and I’ll post a vote.