Title: Is weeding defensible? Moral consideration for crabgrass

Authors: John Hainze

Addresses: Center for Environmental Justice and Sustainability, Seattle University, 901 12th Avenue, Seattle, WA 98122, USA

Abstract: How we relate to other species undergirds our approach to sustainability. This paper traces the development of human regard for other organisms, considering philosophical and religious perspectives in light of recent developments in biology. Aspects of the biology of pest organisms like silverfish, dandelions, fruit flies, and crabgrass are reviewed as supporting moral considerability. It is determined that the findings of science, philosophy, and religion lead us to abandon a Cartesian conception of non-humans as machinelike other, and towards an attitude of moral consideration for other organisms. This position requires that we adjudicate conflicts between members of different species, affirming the need to survive over lesser needs such as efficiency or aesthetics. A respectful attitude towards common living things like crabgrass can only enhance our relationship to nature in general.

Keywords: nature; environment; moral consideration; value; axiology; world religion; environmental ethics; moral concern; environmental philosophy.

DOI: 10.1504/IER.2017.088758

Interdisciplinary Environmental Review, 2017 Vol.18 No.3/4, pp.350 - 364

Received: 26 Nov 2016
Accepted: 30 May 2017

Published online: 11 Dec 2017 *

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