Challenges readers to reconsider the moral standing of plants.
Plants are people too? Not exactly, but in this work of philosophical botany Matthew Hall challenges readers to reconsider the moral standing of plants, arguing that they are other-than-human persons. Plants constitute the bulk of our visible biomass, underpin all natural ecosystems, and make life on Earth possible. Yet plants are considered passive and insensitive beings rightly placed outside moral consideration. As the human assault on nature continues, more ethical behavior toward plants is needed. Hall surveys Western, Eastern, Pagan, and Indigenous thought, as well as modern science and botanical history, for attitudes toward plants, noting the particular resources for plant personhood and those modes of thought which most exclude plants. The most hierarchical systems typically put plants at the bottom, but Hall finds much to support a more positive view of plants. Indeed, some Indigenous animisms actually recognize plants as relational, intelligent beings who are the appropriate recipients of care and respect. New scientific findings encourage this perspective, revealing that plants possess many of the capacities of sentience and mentality traditionally denied them.
Matthew Hall is Research Scientist at the Centre for Middle Eastern Plants, Royal Botanic Garden Edinburgh.
A Philosophical Botany
1. The Roots of Disregard: Exclusion and Inclusion in Classical Greek Philosophy
2. Dogma and Domination: Keeping Plants at a Distance
3. Passive Plants in Christian Traditions
4. Dealing with Sentience and Violence in Hindo, Jain, and Buddhist Texts
5. Indigenous Animisms, Plant Persons, and Respectful Action
6. Pagans, Plants, and Personhood
7. Bridging the Gulf: Moving, Sensing, Intelligent, Plants
Recreating a Place for Flourishing