David Bourget (Western Ontario)
David Chalmers (ANU, NYU)
Rafael De Clercq
Jack Alan Reynolds
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Journal of Agricultural and Environmental Ethics 3 (1):36-49 (1990)
Modern agriculture is subject to a metaphysical as well as an ethical critique. As a casual review of the beliefs associated with food production in the past suggests, modern agriculture is embedded in and informed by the prevailing modern world view, Newtonian Mechanics, which is bankrupt as a scientific paradigm and unsustainable as an agricultural motif. A new holistic, organic world view is emerging from ecology and the new physics marked by four general conceptual features: Each level of organization from atoms to ecosystems (1) exhibits emergent properties, (2) exerts downward causation from whole to part, (3) is a systemically integrated whole, (4) the parts of which are internally related. Organic agriculture has been favourably compared with industrial agriculture by the United States National Academy of Science's Board on Agriculture. Aldo Leopold was among the first to criticize industrial agriculture and to envision a new motif for agriculture informed by ecology. A future post-modern ecological agriculture will help to solve the ethical problems engendered by modern mechanical agriculture.
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