AR-FAQ - #45

#45 But even if plants don't feel pain, aren't you depriving them of their life? Why isn't that enough to accord moral status to plants?

The philosophy of Animal Rights is generally regarded as encompassing only sentient creatures. Plants are just one of many non-sentient, living creatures. To remain consistent, granting moral status to plants would lead one to grant it to all life. It may be thought that a philosophy encompassing all life would be best, but granting moral status to all living creatures leads to rather implausible views. For example, concern for life would lead one to oppose the distribution of spermicides, even to overpopulated Third world countries. The morality of any sexual intercourse could be questioned as well, since thousands of sperm cells die in each act. Also, the sheer variety of life forms creates difficulties; for example, arguments have been made to show that some computer programs--such as computer viruses--may well be called alive. Should one grant them moral status? There are questions even in the case of plants. The use of weed-killers in a garden would need defending. And if killing plants is wrong, why isn't merely damaging them in some other way also wrong? Is trimming hedgerows wrong? The problems raised above are not attempts to discourage efforts to develop an ethics of the environment. They simply point out that according moral status to all living creatures is fraught with difficulties. Nevertheless, some people do, indeed, argue that the taking of life should be minimized where possible; this constitutes a kind of moral status for life. Interestingly, such a view, far from undermining the AR view, actually supports it. To see why, refer to question #46. AECW

SEE ALSO: #46, #59