[SydPhil] CFP [Final Reminder] - Special Issue Plant Sentience & Consciousness (Journal of Consciousness Studies)

Miguel Segundo Ortin miguel.segundo.ortin at gmail.com
Tue May 5 10:58:36 AEST 2020

*Call for Papers - Special Issue "Plant Sentience: Theoretical and 
Empirical Issues" (/Journal of Consciousness Studies/)*

Guest Editors:
Vicente Raja (Rotman Institute of Philosophy, Western University)
Miguel Segundo-Ortin (School of Liberal Arts, University of Wollongong)

Recently, scientists have started paying attention to a series of 
organisms that have traditionally deemed cognitively 
un-interesting. Plants are among these organisms. The current scientific 
evidence seems to show that plants are not merely reactive organisms and 
that the way they interact with the environment is far more complex than 
we initially assumed. We know, for example, that plants do not react to 
the environmental impingements on a one-by-one basis. Rather, they seem 
to be able to integrate information from multiple vectors, eliciting 
sophisticated responses (at the level of physiology, morphology, and 
phenotype) to maximize fitness (Trewavas, 2014). Plants seem to also be 
able to anticipate upcoming events (Novoplansky, 2016) and to show some 
communicative skills (Falik et al., 2012). Likewise, the empirical 
evidence suggests that they are able to memorize and learn from previous 
experiences, having found evidence of associative and non-associative 
learning in /Mimosa pudica/ and garden pea (Gagliano et al., 2014; 
2016). This scientific evidence has called the attention of 
philosophers, initiating the debate about whether plants can be 
considered intelligent in a proper, non-metaphorical way (Adams, 2018; 
Segundo-Ortin & Calvo, 2019).

A much less explored issue is, however, whether plants are conscious 
(whether they have subjective, phenomenal experience of the world). In 
2017, Calvo [this journal] defended the possibility that plants could be 
subjectively aware or conscious of the world. Calvo argues that plants 
lack none of the functional structures supposedly needed to have 
phenomenal consciousness, and, then, that there is no solid reason to 
neglect, before serious engagement and investigation, such a possibility 
(see also Calvo et al., 2017). This idea has recently been further 
explored and challenged (see, e.g., Maher, 2018; Taiz et al., 2019), 
which shows that the topic of plant sentience/consciousness is currently 
a matter of controversy.

In this special issue, we seek to address the issue of plant 
sentience/consciousness from different disciplines that combine both 
*theoretical* and *empirical* perspectives. Some of the questions to be 
addressed in the special issue include the following:

·      Plants exhibit interesting behaviors; does it entail they are 
conscious to some extent?

·      What are the requirements for a living organism to be conscious? 
Do plants meet these requirements?

·      What does the possibility of plant sentience/consciousness entail 
for the studies of the evolution of consciousness?

·      It is just a categorical mistake to attribute consciousness to 

·      Can we talk about different levels or degrees of consciousness?

Several authors have already confirmed their contribution to this 
special issue: *Paco Calvo*, *Eva Jablonka* & *Simona Ginsburg*, *Monica 
Gagliano* & *Pamela Lyon*, and *Chauncey Maher*.


*How to submit?*

Deadline: *June 1st, 2020*

Please submit your papers (max. 9000 words including footnotes, 
references, abstract, etc.) to *vgalian at uwo.ca* with subject “Paper 
Special Issue JCS”.

For more information, including bibliography and more detailed 
descriptions of the topics and questions to be addressed in the papers 
submitted to the special issue, please contact the guest editors at 
*vgalian at uwo.ca* (Vicente) or *miguel at uow.edu.au* (Miguel).



Adams, F. (2018). Cognition wars. /Studies in History and Philosophy of 
Science Part A/, 68, 20-30.

Calvo, P. (2017). What is it like to be a plant? /Journal of 
Consciousness Studies/, 24(9-10), 205-227.

Calvo, P., Sahi, V. P., & Trewavas, A. (2017). Are plant sentient? 
Plant. /Cell & Environment/, 40(11), 2858-2869.

Falik, O., Mordoch, Y., Ben-Natan, D., …, & Novoplansky, A. (2012). 
Plant responsiveness to root-root communication of stress cues. /Annals 
of Botany/, 110, 271-280.

Gagliano, M., Renton, M., Depczynski, M., & Mancuso, S. (2014). 
Experience teaches plants to learn faster and forget slower in 
environments where it matters. /Oecologia/, 175(1), 63-72.

Gagliano, M., Vyazovskiy, V. V., Borbély, A. A., Grimonprez, M., & 
Depczynski, M. (2016). Learning by association in plants. /Scientific 
Reports/, 6, 38427.

Maher, C. (2018). /Plant minds: A philosophical defense/. New York: 

Novoplansky, A. (2016). Future perception in plants. In N. Mihai (Ed.), 
/Anticipation Across Disciplines/ (pp. 57-70). New York: Springer.

Segundo-Ortin, M. & Calvo, P. (2019). Are plants cognitive? A reply to 
Adams. /Studies in History and Philosophy of Science Part A/, 73, 64-71.

Trewavas, A. (2014). /Plant behaviour and intelligence/. Oxford: Oxford 
University Press.

Taiz, L., Alkon, D., Draguhn, A., …, & Robinson, D. G. (2019). Plants 
neither possess nor require consciousness. /Trends in Plant Science/, 
24(8), 677-687


*Dr. Miguel Segundo-Ortin*
Postdoctoral Fellow
School of Liberal Arts
Faculty of Law, Humanities and the Arts, 19.1089
University of Wollongong, Australia
Visit my website: miguelsegundoortin.com 

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