The Indeterminacy of Plant Consciousness

Journal of Consciousness Studies 28 (1-2):136-154 (2021)
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Are plants conscious? Most knowledgeable people say they aren't. A small minority say they are. Others say we don't know. Virtually all assume the predicate '– is conscious' is fully determinate; plants are or aren't in its extension. Appealing to Mark Wilson's work on predicates and concepts, I challenge that assumption, proposing that the predicate isn't determinate for plants. I offer the start of an explanation for why this is so. We tacitly rely on many empirical correlations when we correctly characterize creatures as conscious, but we have limited knowledge of those facts, and plants differ significantly from animals, while also being substantively similar to them. We don't yet know what it would be for them to be conscious.



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Chauncey Maher
Dickinson College

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References found in this work

Wandering Significance: An Essay on Conceptual Behavior.Mark Wilson - 2006 - Oxford, GB: Oxford: Clarendon Press.
Behaviorism.John B. Watson - 1926 - Journal of Philosophy 23 (12):331-334.
Psychology as the Behaviorist Views It.J. B. Watson - 1913 - Philosophical Review 22:674.
The Logic of Modern Physics.P. W. Bridgman - 1927 - Mind 37 (147):355-361.

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