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Plant Philosophy and Interpretation: Making Sense of Contemporary Plant Intelligence Debates

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Plant biologists widely accept plants demonstrate capacities for intelligence. However, they disagree over the interpretive, ethical and nomenclatural questions arising from these findings: how to frame the issue and how to signify the implications. Through the trope of 'plant neurobiology' describing plant root systems as analogous to animal brains and nervous systems, plant intelligence is mobilised to raise the status of plants. In doing so, however, plant neurobiology accepts an anthropocentric moral extensionist framework requiring plants to anthropomorphically meet animal standards to be deserving of moral respect. I argue this strategy is misguided because moral extensionism is an erroneous ontological foundation for ethics.

Keywords: anthropomorphism; hermeneutics of biology; moral extensionism; plant biology; plant ethics

Document Type: Research Article

Publication date: June 1, 2022

This article was made available online on May 12, 2021 as a Fast Track article with title: "Plant Philosophy and Interpretation: Making Sense of Contemporary Plant Intelligence Debates".

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  • Environmental Values is an international peer-reviewed journal that brings together contributions from philosophy, economics, politics, sociology, geography, anthropology, ecology and other disciplines, which relate to the present and future environment of human beings and other species. In doing so we aim to clarify the relationship between practical policy issues and more fundamental underlying principles or assumptions.

    Environmental Values has a Journal Impact Factor (2021) of 1.831. 5 Year Impact Factor: 2.192.
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