Recognizing The Right Of Plants To Evolve
by Linton Weeks
October 26, 2012
If proposals calling for rights for animals are on the table, why not rights for other living things? Plants, for instance.
After all, plants can sometimes exhibit humanlike behavior. And we’re not just talking about the butterwort-flytrap hybrid in The Little Shop of Horrors. Some plants respond well to music. Some “smell” other plants. Still others seem to shrink away when touched.
Plants display remedial types of memory and possess “anoetic consciousness” — the ability of an organism to sense and to react to stimulation — writes Daniel Chamovitz in his 2012 book, What a Plant Knows: A Field Guide to the Senses.
Writing in The New York Times recently, Michael Marder, author of the forthcoming Plant-Thinking: A Philosophy of Vegetal Life, calls for “plant liberation.” Plant stress, Marder points out, does not reach the same intensity, nor does it express itself in the same ways, as animal suffering. This fact, he adds, should be reflected in our practical ethics.
But, he continues, “the commendable desire to ameliorate the condition of animals, currently treated as though they were meat-generating machines, does not justify strategic argumentation in favor of the indiscriminate consumption of plants. The same logic ultimately submits to total instrumentalization the bodies of plants, animals and humans by setting them over and against an abstract and rational mind.”
I’d call this fruitcakery, but that might hurt the feelings of wheat, pineapple plants, cherry trees, pear trees, grape vines, … .