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.
The extension of ethics to the nonhuman, nonanimal is important, and ahead of its time. What a pleasure to experience this well-written, well-researched, interesting approach to applied comparative philosophy. Matthew Hall makes an outstanding contribution to a new and important field of study.
- Christopher Key Chapple, author of "Yoga and the Luminous: Patanjali's Spiritual Path to Freedom"
"Ever since the publication of Peter Singer's 'Animal Liberation', many readers have been waiting for the other shoe to fall: plant liberation. This book gives it to us. It will be the poster child for the plant liberation movement, if ever there is such a thing."
- Loyal Rue, author of "Everybody's Story: Wising Up to the Epic of Evolution"
"This wide-ranging analysis is exactly what is needed to understand the complex character of contemporary human-Earth interactions. It is a significant contribution to our understanding of plants in the discourse on environmental concerns."
- John Grim, cofounder of the Forum for Religion and Ecology, Yale University