The Multispecies Constitution Project

Our Multispecies Constitution Project is a collaboration between the Planetary and Future Humans Themes. Launched in 2023, it entails an innovative exercise—drafting a speculative constitution that includes humans and non-humans as political subjects. We want to create a language that centers multispecies mutualism rather than human exceptionalism, and collective intelligences rather than individualized human knowledge.

Led by Jonathan Blake and Claire Isabel Webb, the Multispecies Constitution Project convenes philosophers, constitutional scholars, scientists, and artists, including BI Fellows, to collaborate across their disciplines. It will reflect the state-of-the-art knowledge on more-than-human ways of being, the design of inclusive and effective political institutions that span the local and the planetary, and methods for listening to and translating more-than-human voices. Animating questions include:

  • How could a political body represent the planet as a whole?
  • What sorts of institutions could speak with—rather than for—the trees, the birds, the microbes, and the diverse humans of this planet?
  • What emerging technologies of translation, including AIs, will help scientists better understand the experiences of non-humans, from sperm whales, to octopuses, to mycelial networks?

The project avoids the debates about the rights of nature hashed out in law and courts. Instead, we consider the question of multispecies representation through new political institutions and mechanisms. Staging a new system of multispecies governance built upon planetary, rather than anthropocentric, principles, is difficult—even controversial. But it is precisely the aim of the project. We aim to spark acts of unorthodox imagination.