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

Yogi H. Hendlin*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleAcademicpeer-review

6 Citations (Scopus)
225 Downloads (Pure)


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 neurobiol-ogy 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.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)253-276
Number of pages24
JournalEnvironmental Values
Issue number3
Publication statusPublished - Jun 2022

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
Austrian Science Foundation (FWF) for funding that initially germinated this paper, as well as the International Society of Environmental Ethics conference in Kiel, Germany, which provided valuable feedback on an early version.

Publisher Copyright:
© 2021 The White Horse Press.


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