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There is now a philosophy of plant biology—and a call for abstracts


And an upcoming workshop at a conference at the University of Exeter in England, May 5-7, 2021. They stop short of saying that plants are people too but here’s what they do say:

Plants are very interesting organisms. They implement unique internal processes and modes of interaction with their environments. Needless to say, as the primary harvesters of solar energy they are vital parts of ecosystems. Serious attention to plants provides novel and interesting perspectives on many topics in philosophy of biology, including individuality, organisation, cognition, and disease. For example, the growth of plants requires us to stretch the concept of organism. If vegetative spread, for example via suckers from roots, is counted as mere growth, a forest can be considered a single organism, as is the case with ‘Pando’, a Populus tremuloides forest in Utah. And although there seems to be no centre of the coordination in a plant body as in animals, there is usually a highly-tuned coordination of the body parts that has led some theorists to attribute cognitive capacities to plants. Plant scientists use diverse methodologies and approaches, some of which are uniquely applicable to these organisms.

A workshop to consider philosophical issues arising in plant science will be held at Egenis, the Centre for the Study of Life Sciences, University of Exeter on May 5-7, 2021. We hope to hold the meeting in person, but it will also be accessible through Zoom. If the state of the Covid-19 pandemic requires this, the workshop will be held fully online. This workshop is a part of the Plant Phenome Project that has received funding from the European Union’s Horizon 2020 research and innovation programme under the Marie Skłodowska-Curie grant agreement No:833353.

We welcome abstracts from philosophers, historians and biologists. Although we are interested in the full range of topics pertaining to plant sciences, we have a particular interest in topics that bear on plant phenomes. Please send a word file abstract with no more than 600 words to o.yilmaz2@exeter.ac.uk before 15 January 2021. Please include four keywords, name of the author(s), affiliation(s) and email address.

Topics of the talk can be any subject on the philosophy of plant biology, including:

Plant individuality; History of plant biology; Data management in plant sciences; Plant biotic and abiotic stress; Plant relations with microorganisms; Plant cognition; Plant nutrition; Plant physiology; Plant evolution; Plant ecology; Plant-soil interactions.

Dr. Özlem Yılmaz Marie Skłodowska-Curie Actions Research Fellow College of Social Sciences and International Studies, University of Exeter Egenis Centre for the Study of the Life Sciences

If you’ve been following the many discoveries in plant intelligence, this may be your spring in England—or in front of a Zoom camera.

Everyone knows plants don’t have minds but they do have a lot of intelligence. Just an accident or part of the intelligence massively applied to nature?

For inspiration, see also:

Scientists: Plants Are NOT Conscious! No, but why do serious plant scientists even need to make that clear? What has happened? Quite simply, the need to see humans as equivalent to animals has now spread to the need to see us as equivalent to plants.

Can plants be as smart as animals? Seeking to thrive and grow, plants communicate extensively, without a mind or a brainSeeking to thrive and grow, plants communicate extensively, without a mind or a brain

Is salad murder? If we think plants are “equal organisms” with respect to humans, it’s not clear whether salad is or isn’t murder. Or whether murder is even a serious ethical problem.

Researchers: Yes, plants have nervous systems too. Not only that but, like mammals, they use glutamate to speed transmission

Well, they're finally coming around to agreeing with Darwin himself on this one, after dismissing him for 150 years. He saw plants as intelligent and did a fair amount of real experimentation to prove it. polistra

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