Die Pflanze - Moderne Konzepte der Biologie [The plant - modern biological concepts]
Contributions to Ethics and Biotechnology , Volume 2 (2007) - in German
This volume deals with plants, and how they differ from animals, from the perspective of modern biology. Swiss legislation calls for the dignity of living beings to be respected in the case of plants as well as animals. While there are certain indications as to what the dignity of animals consists in, the question arises: in virtue of what properties could dignity be ascribed to plants? In contrast to animals, there is a greater tendency to perceive plants as mere objects rather than as forms of life that are to be respected and protected for their own sake. It is first shown that plants and animals share a long evolutionary history. Even though they differ fundamentally in their organization, there are strong similarities with regard to their cellular structures and degree of complexity. There follows a description of the capacity of plants to pick up, store and react to information from their environment. On this basis, it is argued that the differences between plants and animals are only of degree. From a biological perspective, animals cannot be claimed to be more highly developed than plants.