Environmental Philosophy

Volume 17, Issue 2, Fall 2020

Matthew HallOrcid-ID
Pages 317-345

How Plants Live
Individuality, Activity, and Self

The recent proliferation of human-plant (or plant-human) studies are informed by understandings of how plants live. Philosopher Michael Marder has developed a philosophy of plant ontology, founded on notions of modular independence, radical openness and ontological indifference. This paper critiques, and ultimately rejects, Marder’s key concepts, using a swathe of empirical evidence and theory from the plant sciences and evolutionary ecology. It posits a number of positive statements about these aspects of plant being that better align with the scientific evidence base. The implications for plant ethics are also briefly explored.