I was hoping to trigger a discussion on this matter. There already is one going on somewhere here, but I was hoping this could be a much more personal discussion on what our views are, and why we have them.
The reason for this is because, due to the nature of the topic, I think keeping it impersonal can lead to missing important points. It is about value and such after all, very personal things.
Anyway, my perspective, from a chronological view:-
It didn't take me long in life to start thinking certain people were more valuable than others. In the same manner certain things were more valuable than other things.
These more valuable people were the ones who 'contributed' more to 'society', or ones who had more potential to do so.
These people were usually the intelligent and the creative, though there were other traits that made one more valuable as well (notably hard-working-ness).
Now, I realised at some point, when thinking about the mentally disabled, that as offensive as it is to many, I had trouble differentiating between them and animals in terms of value. (To be clear, I was thinking about severe mental disabilities, not mental illness or physical disability)
That thought is actually what made me become vegetarian, so clearly my bias was still in favour of such people. More importantly, later I began to realise why I really saw the people who "contributed" more, as more valuable. In basic form it was because I valued those traits, but mainly because society valued those traits. They "served" society.
Now the concept of serving is what formed my current view. Avoiding the philosophy of utility and such, the point is that one cannot serve intelligence. One cannot serve creativity. One cannot serve hard-working-ness. These things serve, but are not served. These things contribute, but are not contributed to.
What one can serve is not people (though many would say that), rather a specific part of people. Again avoiding the philosophical details, this "thing" you can serve is something I think all humans possess. Not only that, it's easily argued that anything with a central nervous system has it.
So my overall summary on my current view is that, I think there's still a lot of truth to the intelligent being more valuable than the stupid or the creative more than the stagnant. However, I think a lot of current views, notably the majority view on animal welfare, is due to people separating from the source of "value" and forgetting why these traits are valued in the first place. Instead focusing solely on what is valued.
There's nothing inherently valuable about that which humans possess which higher order animals do not. Both humans and such animals can be served, and those traits are what serves. As such, whilst I think those valued traits should be nurtured and favoured more so than a lack of them, in the end the ultimate source of value comes from those who value, not the objects they value. The brilliant, the idiotic, the crippled, the hateful, high-order animals and more, all value. They are the source of value.
Anyway, that's my view. What is yours?