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Saul

Plants: Eusocial Ferns; Are they "sentient"?

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Interesting, thanks.

I am not sure it implies sentience at all, however. Also, in a way, I am not sure it's all so different from what some fungi do.

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My view:  sentience may be something common to all living creatures.

To quote animal farm:

All animals are created equal.  But some animals are more equal than others.

  --  Saul

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All kidding aside -- my point is a moral disagreement with those who are vegan, because for moral reasons they wouldn't eat an animal.

But they would eat a plant.

  --  Saul

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The article doesn't at all seem to suggest or imply plant sentience:

"An assumed requirement for eusocial colonial living is behavioral coordination, because it allows different individuals to work together. But ferns are plants, not animals, which so often coordinate their behaviors. Seeing eusocial living in plants “seems to indicate to me that this type of transition in the evolution of complexity doesn’t require a brain,” Burns says."

They've found a fascinating example of plants coordinating behaviors, which shouldn't be very surprising given that plants are living things. Human and nonhuman animals have physiological characteristics, as well as emotional lives, that make the experience of being wounded or killed different than the experience a plant may undergo. I find it troubling when people assert that being vegan is foolish because we eat plants (living things) or because, when we harvest plants, we may inadvertently harm some animals. Veganism seeks to do the least harm. If you kill an animal to consume their body you are certain of the harm you are doing unto that animal. When you eat a plant - having endeavored not to harm the land and community with your farming practices, and not to inadvertently harm animals during harvest - you are preventing, insofar as you are able, harm to others. We can employ this same logic when we buy food from the store or from local farmers; we can be discerning and thoughtful about our consumption.

Your argument, Saul, if indeed you are serious, is akin to people throwing up their hands and saying, "there's no ethical consumption under Capitalism" and thereby excusing themselves from any responsibility for their own actions. This point of view is illogical and unkind. Just because it is difficult to act ethically in a marketplace not of our own making does not mean that we are excused from trying to make the best, and most ethically sound, decisions possible given the information and choices available to us.

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4 hours ago, Starlight said:

that make the experience of being wounded or killed different than the experience a plant may undergo.

So you understand the experience that a plant may undergo?

How did you get that infprmation?

  --  Saul

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I am guessing that Saul is not entirely serious....

Pain is generally understood to have evolved as a warning to mobile creatures so that they can move away, promptly, from environmental conditions that will cause them harm. A functioning nervous system, neurons, and brain are generally the prerequisites for experiencing pain, and sentience for the fear of death.

Different animals have different thresholds and experience pain differently, with fish for example being considerably more sensitive to temperature changes or skin injury (if I remember right) than humans.

While virtually all living things have some form of sensory reactions, which they need to stay alive, I am not aware of any study or suggestions that plants have the complex framework necessary to feel pain, or fear death. It would also be nonsensical from an evolutionary standpoint, as they are not sufficiently mobile to act on acute pain signals.

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10 hours ago, Ron Put said:

I am guessing that Saul is not entirely serious....

Pain is generally understood to have evolved as a warning to mobile creatures so that they can move away, promptly, from environmental conditions that will cause them harm. A functioning nervous system, neurons, and brain are generally the prerequisites for experiencing pain, and sentience for the fear of death.

Different animals have different thresholds and experience pain differently, with fish for example being considerably more sensitive to temperature changes or skin injury (if I remember right) than humans.

While virtually all living things have some form of sensory reactions, which they need to stay alive, I am not aware of any study or suggestions that plants have the complex framework necessary to feel pain, or fear death. It would also be nonsensical from an evolutionary standpoint, as they are not sufficiently mobile to act on acute pain signals.

Neither am I aware of any such study or suggestions (from scientists)! Thanks for your response 🙂 

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When plants are injured, they produce toxins to discourage their consumption by animals, so they need to sense the injury.

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On 6/13/2021 at 9:37 AM, AlPater said:

When plants are injured, they produce toxins to discourage their consumption by animals, so they need to sense the injury.

Of course. I already noted above that "virtually all living things have some form of sensory reactions, which they need to stay alive, I am not aware of any study or suggestions that plants have the complex framework necessary to feel pain, or fear death."

Bacteria defend against phage attacks by creating RNA molecules that "remember" the attacker's DNA signature and when they subsequently identify it, they destroy it. And viruses, which many argue are not "alive," use their structure to "trick" cell defenses.

So, while plants are admittedly much more capable in their sensory reactions than bacteria, the principle is similar and I don't really see the point.

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Hi Ron!

The basic question is, where do you draw the line (from supersentient humans, apes, monkeys, cephalopods, crows, whales, mammals and birds, other vertebrae, plants, fungi, bacteria and archaea?

My claim -- there is no such line.

My view:  Animals -- aside from the very few that have gained chloroplasts and are able to manufacture their own food --  are parasites on other living creatures.  We can not live without taking the lives of others.

Nothing wrong with that -- whether or not you are vegan.

  --  Saul

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1 hour ago, Saul said:

We can not live without taking the lives of others.

Nothing wrong with that -- whether or not you are vegan.

Yeah, well... Similar absurd logic is employed by serial killers.

Most reasonable people can differentiate between bacteria, or eating carrots, and torturing or killing animals.

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Eating an animal  (or plant) isn't the same as torturing the animal (or plant).  There are Moslem and Jewish traditions of how to end the animal's life humanely.  (In the Orthodox Jewish tradition, the animal must be made aware that it's life is to be taken.  Immediately after, the animal is "shechted".  E.g. with cattle, I believe a cut is made to the carotid artery, in the throat.)

Please note:  Even though I note that we -- and all animals -- live by consuming other life forms -- I don't eat any land animals myself -- not for moral reasons; but because they aren't healthful for humans (and I don't like cow or chicken flesh).  (Interestingly, the various races of man are not equally well adapted to eating meat -- the Oriental races are better adapted to meat eating than the other races of man).  It is believed that the human race is evolving to becoming more carnivorous.

So, every obese person gorging on meat is hastening this evolution -- even while he/she is hastening his/her demise.

  --  Saul

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