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Another Push for Plant “Rights”


Rejecting human exceptionalism leads from one bizarre concept to the next, including the ridiculous anthropomorphized idea that plants are persons too.

The New York Times published a professor (of course!) claiming that peas are “not only a what, but a who.” The paper’s science writer Natalie Angier even wrote that plants are “ethical autotrophs.”

Trees as “Beings”

And now an Australian scientist has written a book claiming trees and other plants should be considered “beings” instead of “objects.” From the Sydney Morning Herald story:

It’s OK to cut down a tree, or poison a weed, because plants don’t feel pain when we chop them down, right? They don’t have brains. Everyone knows that.

But plants make sounds — little underground clicks that microbes and insects might be able to hear. They communicate with each other, and other species, using chemicals.

And, in a series of experiments, some plants even seem to listen, growing toward the sound of a dripping drainpipe, and learn, remembering and responding to signals from humans.

What then do we make of plants?

“We have studied plants for a long time, but we only understand them as objects – not as beings,” says Associate Professor Monica Gagliano, a plant biologist at the University of Western Australia who conducted those studies. “And if they are beings, then maybe they have rights? Definitely the right to be treated with respect and care – which we don’t always do well.”

Oh, so what, Wesley? That’s just a fringe radical doing what fringe radicals do.

Everything-Deserves-Rights Advocacy

Maybe. But there is increasing wind in the sails of everything-deserves-rights advocacy. Switzerland legally recognizes the “dignity” of individual plants in its constitution and four rivers in the world have been granted enforceable rights. So has an orangutan in Argentina, which was declared by a court to be a “non-human person.”

Meanwhile, “nature rights” has become mainstream among environmentalists. Step by step, inch by inch.

Photo: A patch of weeds, by Erik-Jan Leusink via Unsplash.

Cross-posted at The Corner.