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Plants ought to have the right to vote

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Voting Style: Open Point System: 7 Point
Started: 10/8/2015 Category: Politics
Updated: 2 years ago Status: Post Voting Period
Viewed: 655 times Debate No: 80679
Debate Rounds (4)
Comments (6)
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This is a challenge to famousdebater.

Resolved: Plants ought to have the right to vote. This resolution should focus on the United States.

plants - the group of organisms in the kingdom Plantae
right - legal guarantee
vote - a formal indication of a choice between two or more candidates or courses of action, expressed typically through a ballot or a show of hands or by voice.
ought - have a moral obligation to

1. Follow structure
2. You accept to the round structure and resolution, terms, etc. as provided in R1. These cannot be changed.
3. No deconstruction semantics/plagiarism/trolling/etc.

Round structure:
Round 1. Acceptace ("I accept" will do)
Round 2. Constructive arguments
Round 3. Rebuttals
Round 4. Defense

Thanks, I'm looking forward to a great debate!


Accepted. The Burden Of Proof is shared.
Debate Round No. 1


To deny plants the right to vote is to disolve the concept of human rights

Unweighted arguments:

, journalist at Al-Jazeera, 2013["The time is ripe for plant rights"]
  • "[t]he codification of human rights ... meant to provide ... protections that would compensate for the vulnerabilities engrained in the ... condition. In fact, the more vulnerable ... the more ... rights need to be protected ... There is no doubt that plants are some of the most vulnerable living beings on the planet: even according to fairly conservative estimates, one in every five plant species is currently on the brink of extinction.".

, Professor at University of Warwick, 1998 [Upendra, “Introduction to the Symposium: Voices of Suffering and the Future of Human Rights”]
  • " ... Nor may we succumb to an anthropomorphic illusion that the range of human rights is limited to human beings; the new rights to a clean and healthy environment ... take us far beyond such a narrow notion ... The expression "human rights" shelters an incredibly diverse range of desire-in-dominance politics and desire-in-insurrection politics. These forms of politics resist encapsulation in any formula. The best one may hope for is to let the contexts of domination and resistance articulate themselves as separate but equal perspectives on the meaning of "human rights.""
United Nations, 2015 [Democracy and Human Rights]
  • "The values of freedom, respect for human rights and the principle of holding periodic and genuine elections by universal suffrage are essential elements of democracy. In turn, democracy provides the natural environment for the protection and effective realization of human rights. These values are embodied in the Universal Declaration of Human Rights and further developed in the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights which enshrines a host of political rights and civil liberties underpinning meaningful democracies."
From these three quotes, we can see that in order to uphold human rights, we need to provide a forum for the vulnerable and the suffering to be able to speak; this is through the process of democracy, of which a major component is the right to vote.


Linarelli, Adjunct Professor of Law, Georgetown University, 1996 [DENVER JOURNAL OF INTERNATIONAL LAW AND POLICY], p. 253 finds:

  • "Development and respect for human rights are also closely interconnected ... the essence of development encompasses not only higher incomes but also better education, higher standards of health and nutrition, less poverty, a cleaner environment ... Human rights protections in the development process thus refer to economic and social rights as well as civil and political rights."

Therefore, we must affirm human rights in order to help protect the development in the US, in terms of: better education, higher standards of health and nutrtition, less poverty, and a cleaner environment (cleaner housing for plants, in this case). These protections help increase the scope of economic, social, civil and political rights.

Hoffman, Chair of the International Executive Committee of Amnesty International, 2004 ["Human Rights Quarterly"], p. 932-955

  • "History shows that when societies trade human rights for security, most often they get neither. Instead, minorities and other marginalized groups pay the price through violation of their human rights. Sometimes this trade-off comes in the form of mass murder or genocide ... Indeed, millions of lives have been destroyed in the last sixty years when human rights norms have not been observed.' Undermining the strength of international human rights law and institutions will only facilitate such human rights violations in the future and confound efforts to bring violators to justice."
Here, Hoffman is claiming that if we trade the security of anthrocentrism in order to not allow plants to have human rights, we get neither security nor the protections of these human rights. Marginaized groups pay the price through the constant violations of their human rights; sometimes this goes as genoicde. Millions of lives are destroyed or ended whenever we do not recognise human rights, therefore giving plants the right to vote will save countless lives.

Carothers, director of Democracy and Rule of Law Project, 1994 ["WASHINGTON QUARTERLY"], p. 106.

  • "In most of the countries that have undergone democratic transitions in recent years, during the generative period of the transitions ... the emphasis of external actors was on human rights advocacy rather than democracy promotion per se. Therefore, just as human rights advocates should not overlook the fact that democratization has advanced the cause of human rights in many countries, democracy promotion proponents should not ignore the contribution of human rights advocacy to democratization"
In order to promote a more perfect democracy within the US, we need to focus more on human rights advocacy than on democratisation. If we affirm botanical suffrage, we affirm the notion of trying to make democracy more important and weighing in the US.

In order to protect human rights (and further, to make sure that we increase the scope of economic, social, civil and political rights; protect the lives of millions; to promote a more democratic US), we affirm the resolution and can only see a PRO ballot today. Thank you!


Since the debate structure states that I cannot make rebuttals in this round, I will be using this round for constructive arguments only.

Contention 1 - Plants cannot move

The title of this contention may appear a bit misleading. Plants can move but only in order to benefit them. E.g to receive more sunlight. Plants cannot move and therefore it would be extremely difficult for them to vote. I will now prove that plants cannot move in case my opponent decides to object. I appologise for bringing a bit of biology into this:

1. Plants have thick cell walls.
2. Plants are rooted.
3. Plants don't move but have very developed dispersal mechanisms. Seeds are the obvious example, but just consider how grass or runners spread. Ferns and some trees do have motile sperm.
4. Plants are modular. Preservation of the "individual" plant, in the same sense of an animal, isn't as important.
5. Historical contingency. (This should be the "default" answer for any "why didn't xxx organism evolve to do yyy.") While there may be a theoretical niche for moving, photosynthetic organisms, those are two very separate organisms that never exchange any substantial genetic material - it would have to be genetically engineered.

It might make sense for plants to move if they can't obtain consistent sunlight in one location. However, those areas are likely to already be colonized (historical contingency issue), and it will need to outcompete the plants that already established in that target location. Those plants will be our usual plants; thick cell walls, low energy costs of not moving. The point is, it's difficult to imagine a scenario where the benefit of moving to a plant will outweigh its costs.

Contention 2 - Brains?

Plants don't have central nervous systems for the same reason fungi, microbes, and sea sponges don't: they didn't evolve in those groups, and didn't need to. Plants don't need brains any more than humans need leaves, and it wouldn't help them.

Simple nervous systems evolved in the animals around the time of the jellyfish, which have simple nerve nets but no brains. Later animals developed ganglia, or groups of nerve cells that helped direct signal flow, and these eventually became brains. The process was slow and took millions of years, but most animals since have brains.

Brains are so important for humans that we have trouble thinking that other organisms don't have them, but they do. They've been around longer than we have, and are doing better than we are too.

Plants don't really need nervous systems. They can "communicate" within their body via changes in water pressure and certain compounds like hormones, and can "communicate" with other plants in a limited way with chemicals too. Many animals do the same. Human bodies also use hormones for inter-cellular communication, in addition to nerves. We have the same "endocrine" systems plants use (albeit with different chemicals), we just have the extra, faster nervous system as well. Also, as Joe said, plants don't move much (no muscles) or process sensory information, so they don't need nerves for that either.

Without brains, it is obvious that plants do not have the capability to vote for anyone - even if there was only one candidate!

Contention 3 - Life span and laws

Whilst it is true that some plants can live for over 20 years there are many plants that have a life span of much lower.

Basil, dill, and sage are annuals, and must be replanted each year, although I have had sage plants last up to 3 years. Thyme, rosemary, tarragon, oregano and its cousin marjoram, and mint are perennials and will practically live forever if the conditions are right. CHEF TALK

We will be forced to make our voting system extremely complex. Since many plants cannot live to over 18 years old, the voting age will have to be edited so that younger plants can have the right to vote however that makes things complicated for people since in the laws you would be forced to rewrite countless laws again with minute changes so that they fit the exception of plants.

Contention 4 - Bias

It is evident that plants cannot get up and walk into a voting booth on its on (as my first 2 contentions have explained), therefore, this means that somebody will have to take them into the booth and essentially they will have to vote on the behalf of the plant. Unless, my opponent can show me why plants are actually capable of going into the booth (on their own) and voting (on their own) then it is clear to me that somebody would have to take them into the booth (which ruins the law stating that you are not allowed to vote on somebody's behalf and the law stating that you cannot vote on the behalf of somebody else).

Debate Round No. 2


All of my opponent's arguments hinged on practicality of this resolution being put into place instead of the actual ethics that this debate was focused around. Again, I repeat the resolution: "plants ought to have the right to vote." With the definitions I provided, this means that plants have a moral obligation to have the right to vote.

I can try and rebut each of your points based on the merit of each, but I don't feel like it's really necessary. You don't talk about morality of botanical suffrage, just the practicality. As Moti Mizrahi says in his paper, 'Ought Does Not Imply Can', thinking that a moral obligation means feasibility is misguided and not the point of talking about morals. I wanted this debate to talk about the ethics and morals of adding human rights to non-humans, but I must instead remain disappointed.



Due to a misunderstanding between me and my opponent on this debate we have agreed to a tie. All votes will be reported (unless they are tie votes).
Debate Round No. 3


This is why I would like my opponents to read what they automatically agree to in the first round.
Debate Round No. 4
6 comments have been posted on this debate. Showing 1 through 6 records.
Posted by Vox_Veritas 2 years ago
Plants have no brains and no capacity to feel pleasure or pain.
Posted by Lexus 2 years ago
This is my first time trying this format hopefully it works out better than just normal :D
Posted by Lexus 2 years ago
Posted by famousdebater 2 years ago
Is the Burden Of Proof on you or is it shared?
Posted by Lexus 2 years ago
That's fine, take all the time you need
Posted by famousdebater 2 years ago
I will post my acceptance round in a couple of days or possibly tomorrow.
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