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James asked in Science & MathematicsBiology · 2 months ago

Should viruses be considered alive?

I think they should be considered alive. They being subject the natural selection while being composed of organic matter and RNA/DNA is probably a big argument in that favor. People also speak of viruses being "alive" on surfaces or dead. The main argument against is that they have no metabolism (they don't have any native processes and dont require any nutrients) and the other is they cant reproduce themselves. I think the first is a good argument for it not being considered alive while the second is a poor one (could argue it is a living kingdom distinguished by reproducing differently than others ). However I would still say that viruses should be considered life. They are the product and are influenced by natural selection, are composed of proteins, and contain genetic material. This is closer to what most would consider life than non-life.

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  • 2 months ago
    Favourite answer

    It's a total non-issue. Neither "alive" or "not alive" are fully accurate terms for describing viruses. THIS IS NOT A PROBLEM. It merely highlights a gap in our language. The fact that we don't have a word for describing a thing doesn't mean we don't fully understand it or how it works, and it's pointless trying to argue which non-applicable category we want to try to jam it into. It's a weakness of language, not of science.

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  • Cowboy
    Lv 6
    2 months ago

    By your definition, prions would, then, also be considered alive - that's just too far of a stretch. And a somewhat circular idea - a living thing is something that cannot live without another living thing but not a thing like itself, yet some can crystallize and remain inert for millennia but may "come to life" again if another living thing, but not like itself, comes along.

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  • MARK
    Lv 7
    2 months ago

    As Smeghead says they occupy a grey area between the living and non-living and I've been saying this on this forum for a long time. It is simply that we have not devised a term for this.

    Viruses do not have the characteristics of life but they are not inanimate objects.

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  • ?
    Lv 7
    2 months ago

    Yeah, when the crazy jesus freak says something is alive, then goes on a rant about pulling out and masturbation, my natural inclination is to say that thing is not alive. I find it hard to believe someone that crazy could ever be right

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  • ?
    Lv 7
    2 months ago

    They are alive.

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  • 2 months ago

    Nope.  No metabolism = not alive.

    I'll let you look up the MRS C GREN and GOSHARED mnemonics.

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