Do we Need a Plant Theodicy?
KeywordsTheodicy, evil, plants, animals, God
In recent decades, philosophers and theologians have become increasingly aware of the extent of animal pain and suffering, both past and present, and of the challenge this poses to God’s goodness and justice. As a result, a great deal of effort has been devoted to the discussion and development of animal theodicies, that is, theodicies that aim to offer morally sufficient reasons for animal pain and suffering that are in fact God’s reasons. In this paper, I ask whether there is a need to go even further than this, by considering whether effort should be made to extend theodicy to include plants as well. Drawing upon ideas found in some recent animal theodicies as well as in the work of some environmental ethicists, I offer three arguments for supposing that plants should indeed fall within the purview of theodicy: (1) the argument from non-flourishing as evil, (2) the argument from moral considerability, and (3) the argument from intrinsic value. I also consider a possible objection to each of these arguments. Having outlined and defended the aforementioned arguments for broadening theodicy to include plants as well as humans and animals, I conclude by considering what a plant theodicy might look like.
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