Intentionally Empty

December 22, 2009

How do you say “this article is insanely fracking stupid” in journalese? Sometimes I just have to blog about the stupidity of assertions. I mean, seriously:

But before we cede the entire moral penthouse to “committed vegetarians” and “strong ethical vegans,” we might consider that plants no more aspire to being stir-fried in a wok than a hog aspires to being peppercorn-studded in my Christmas clay pot. This is not meant as a trite argument or a chuckled aside. Plants are lively and seek to keep it that way.

Yes, my plants have depressingly unrealistic aspirations. I was just chatting with my arborvitae the other day about his hopes of becoming an investment banker. Money doesn’t grow on trees, he (she? it?) kept telling me, insisting that it must instead grow on hedges.


  1. I thought she was getting at the idea that plants have “a good of their own,” as Paul Taylor puts it (but just saying it with lots of metaphors). That might not give them the moral status he thinks it does, but the idea doesn’t seem insanely frackin’ stupid. Am I being too charitable (to Natalie)?

    • I don’t disagree that plants have a good of their own, but they don’t have aspirations. Or, at least, it doesn’t make sense to me to talk about the aspirations of plants. That’s one reason that it’s okay to treat them differently than I might treat animals.

      • We all know that trees reach for the sky.

  2. So if you cannot eat animals and you cannot eat plants – what is left?

    I guess I could become a fruitarian, which only eats what has become detached from the plant (or perhaps roadkill).

  3. Some plants are better off having their fruit/seeds eaten, but only if we remember to use the bathroom in the woods.

  4. One of the ‘aspirations’ plants have is to be eaten. That’s why they produce energy-rich fruits that carry seeds. Furthermore, we have a symbiotic evolutionary relationship with our food crops that benefits them perhaps even more than us. Any other plant would be ‘jealous’ of corn, potatoes, wheat and rice.

    It’s a shame so many cool plant anecdotes were embedded as premises in such a terrible argument.

  5. I agree this article’s main premise is silly – taking the moral high ground from vegetarians because plants are complex organisms. But the point the article overlooks is interesting, right? I take this point to be that one mark of mentality, or consciousness, or something, in organisms, is the complexity of their response to environmental cues. What goes unsuggested here – probably because it would sound absurd – is that if plants have these complex patterns of response, perhaps plants have mentality. The only thing close to suggesting this involves an appeal to authority and a misguided form of metaphoric argumentation – plant scientists use active language to refer to plants. So they must be just like us!

    Now, I think this is silly, and some reasons for so thinking come from paying closer attention – as the writer of the above really should have – to organisms’ patterns of response. Sure plants are complex, but the amount of complexity and the types of complexity we find in animals (including brain structure and social behaviors), including the ways that animals respond to environmental cues, suggest that a distinction can certainly be drawn between the ‘aspirations’ of plants and those of animals.

    In fact, this distinction obvious enough that upon further reflection, it seems fair to consider this article insanely fracking stupid, if not completely disingenuous.

  6. Ya, I would have to agree with Joshua on this one. we should pay closer attention to organism’s patterns of response. After exhaustive studies of both animals and plants, I have determined that one of the major differences in the way the two groups respond to environmental cues, is that animals often move around, whereas plants seldom do.

    yes, insanely fracking stupid is a fair assesment.


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