Thanks for continuing the conversation. I want to stress that I am not speaking as or for Ken Wilber, which I’m sure you already know, but I needed to say that. I am speaking in alignment with how I understood or interpreted his statements (and I could be totally off the mark in my interpretation and understanding; I’ll allow that). When I heard them, I had a strong intuition of their correctness, and thought of the tenet of capacity for self-preservation ascribed to holons.
You are correct that I am not using the word ‘rights’ in the conventional sense, or as it is normally used. I don’t disagree and do in fact agree with your statement that a right is a moral concept, and that a right is something “that can be thought about.” I did understand your point about ‘rights being a concept.’
That said, I can also view ‘rights’ beyond the conventional, standard definitions, which is what I was doing here, and what I think Wilber was doing. That is indeed stretching the standard definition, towards more truth, I think. Doing so doesn’t limit one’s ability to take the conventional view or participate in or contribute to conventional discussions about rights, that’s still intact, enhanced even, in my opinion.
I do need to clarify statements I made in the first post. Rights as I’m speaking of them here in their non-standard definition are not the behaviors per se aimed at self-preservation, but rather the conditions required for self-preservation, for staying a whole.
And now, before we climb the trees , consider people. It seems to me that legislated civil rights for racial minorities, for instance, are related to issues of self-preservation. Are not those rights founded on identified certain conditions that are required for a social group/holon (or individual) to have a capacity for self-preservation that is on a (more) equal footing with say, whites? You may say, “yes, but these are conditions, or needs, for staying whole, not really rights.” Most legislated rights, or morally agreed upon rights, began in the realm of need. Think of police or fire protection or public education, which most people in democratic societies would agree are rights; they are in fact codified in statutes. But these began as needs, as conditions required for people (and society) being able to ‘stay whole,’ have greater capacity for self-preservation. That seems to be the way society works–rights are legislated or morally agreed upon once they are recognized as conditions for preserving the wholeness of an individual or group or society–but the conditions were there before the legislation or the moral agreements, so one could hold the view that rights existed before they were legally sanctioned or instituted by a society. This is what I mean by rights in the most fundamental sense.
So do trees have rights? Are there conditions required by trees for them to ‘stay whole’? Most certainly, and those are their ‘rights’, speaking in this most fundamental sense of rights. Whether or not society has recognized or agreed upon or instituted legal protections of those rights does not, in my mind, detract from the fact trees have rights. I would also add the outlandish (to some) statement that trees also have responsibilities; that is, they have the self-adapting characteristic of holons, communion. Numerous studies show that trees “warn” one another of insect infestations for instance, through chemical and hormonal substance releases, and through an underground meshwork of mycelium that serves as a communication network. So in the most fundamental sense, trees not only have rights, but responsibilities.