Author Meets Critics Panel: Paul B. Thompson’s (2010) The Agrarian Vision: Sustainability and Environmental Ethics Content Type Journal Article Pages 1-3 DOI 10.1007/s10806-011-9340-4 Authors Raymond Anthony, Department of Philosophy, University of Alaska Anchorage, 3211 Providence Drive, Anchorage, AK 99508, USA Journal Journal of Agricultural and Environmental Ethics Online ISSN 1573-322X Print ISSN 1187-7863.
Abstract I consider Paul Thompson’s Agrarian Vision from the perspective of the philosophy of technology, especially as it relates to certain questions about public engagement and deliberative democracy around food issues. Is it able to promote an attitudinal shift or reorientation in values to overcome the view of “food as device” so that conscientious engagement in the food system by consumers can become more the norm? Next, I consider briefly, some questions to which it must face up in order to (...) move closer in dismantling the barriers that inhibit the capacity for virtuous caretaking of the food system at various levels. Lastly, and more deeply, how successful might agrarianism be in inculcating citizenship values (ones that go beyond food ethics as a private affair), for the democratization of agricultural technologies? Might the Jeffersonian foundation to which the agrarianism (a la) Thompson appeals need something like a contemporary theory of justice in order to facilitate the reconstitution of our politico-moral selves? How can it help guide appropriate ruminations on the intra and intergenerational question, “What do we want the shape of our current and future social and political institutions to look like in relation to food?” Content Type Journal Article Category Articles Pages 1-10 DOI 10.1007/s10806-011-9339-x Authors Raymond Anthony, Department of Philosophy, University of Alaska Anchorage, Anchorage, AK 99508, USA Journal Journal of Agricultural and Environmental Ethics Online ISSN 1573-322X Print ISSN 1187-7863. (shrink)
This paper offers some suggestions on, and encouragement for, how to be better at risk communication in times of agricultural crisis. During the foot and mouth epizootic, the British public, having no precedent to deal with such a rapid and widespread epizootic, no existing rules or conventions, and no social or political consensus, was forced to confront the facts of a perceived "economic disease. Foot and mouth appeared as an economic disease because the major push to eradicate it was motivated (...) exclusively by trade and economic reasons and not because of threats it posed to the lives of human beings and livestock. The British public deferred responsibility to their elected officials for a speedy end to this non-life threatening viral epizootic. The latter, however, did not have a contingency plan in place to tackle such an extensive outbreak. The appeal to an existing policy, i.e., mass eradication, as the exclusive strategy of containment was a difficult pill for the public to swallow well before the end of the 226-day ordeal. Public outcry reflected (in part) serious misgivings about the lack of effective communication of risk-informed decisions between government agents and all concerned. The government''s handling of the matter underestimated concerns and values about animal welfare, public trust, and the plight of farmers and rural communities. A general loss of trust by some segments of the public was exacerbated by perceived mismanagement and early fumbles by government agents.Public moral uneasiness during the crisis, while perhaps symbolic of growing discontent with an already fractured relationship with farmed animals and the state of animal farming today, arguably, also reflected deep disappointment in government agents to recognize inherently and conditionally normative assumptions in their argument as well as recognize their narrow conception of risk. Furthermore, broader stakeholder participation was clearly missing from the outset, especially with respect to the issue of vaccination. A greater appreciation for two-way risk communication is suggested for science-based public policy in agriculture, followed by suggestions on how to be more vigilant in the future. (shrink)
Agricultural technologies are non-neutral and ethical challenges are posed by these technologies themselves. The technologies we use or endorse are embedded with values and norms and reflect the shape of our moral character. They can literally make us better or worse consumers and/or people. Looking back, when the world’s developed nations welcomed and steadily embraced industrialization as the dominant paradigm for agriculture a half century or so ago, they inadvertently championed a philosophy of technology that promotes an insular human-centricism, despite (...) its laudable intent to ensure food security and advance human flourishing. The dominant philosophy of technology has also seeded particular ethical consequences that plague the well-being of human beings, the planet, and farmed animals. After revisiting some fundamental questions regarding the complex ways in which technology as agent shapes our lives and choices and relegates food and farmed constituents into technological artifacts or commodities, I argue that we should accord an environmental virtue ethic of care—understood as caretaking—a central place in developing a more conscientious philosophy of technology that aims at sustainability, fairness, and humaneness in animal agriculture. While technology shapes society, it also is socially shaped and an environmental virtue ethic of care (EVEC) as an alternative design philosophy has the tools to help us take a much overdue inventory of ourselves and our relationships with the nonhuman world. It can help us to expose the ways in which technology hinders critical reflection of its capacity to alter communities and values, to come to terms with why we may be, in general, disengaged from critical ethical analysis of contemporary agriculture and to consider the moral shape and trajectory and the sustainability of our food production systems going into the future. I end by outlining particular virtues associated with the ethic of care discussed here and consider some likely implications for consumers and industry technocrats as they relate to farming animals. (shrink)
In this article, I demonstrate fundamental weaknesses in the ability of critical understandings of race to produce reliable knowledge of how social actors use social comparisons as a way to align self with ingroup. I trace these weaknesses to two sources: The first is relying on social status as an explanation for race-based assessments, ingroup motivations, and social constructions of otherness. This is opposed to leaning on assessments grounded in social psychological research that links properties of human cognition to the (...) development and maintenance of social identities. The second weakness is an open support for activist research that is often situated in radical multiculturalism. Because critical race scholars openly side with racial minorities’ interests, they tend to establish incomplete assessments of social behaviors and social constructs linked to racial identities in order to maintain their stated political allegiances. To demonstrate these and other weaknesses, I draw upon the theoretical insights of social identity theory which is used to reassess Bell and Hartmann's (2007) critical race analysis of diversity dialogue in American society. (shrink)
Pragmatic philosophy and discourse ethics are offered as an alternative way to respond to and understand the concerns of philosophical animal ethics and animal welfare science, especially as they relate to ethical decision-making and democratic participation in today's technical animal agriculture. The two major challenges facing philosophical animal ethics and animal welfare are: the acceptability of alienating individual animals from their genetic and social identities through practices that seek to alter their genome or which fail to provide for their respective (...) natures, and the extent to which the former concern will contribute to further deterioration of already fractured human-farm-animal and consumer-producer relationships. This paper considers how we might ethically and strategically rise to the challenge of reshaping conventional animal farming practices in liberal democracies, especially as it applies to making improvements in animal welfare standards and promoting public trust and confidence in science, the production sector and government. I suggest some ways to empower consumers and farmers to realize this end. (shrink)
In 2012, the sea ice in the Arctic Ocean melted to 4.10 million square kilometers, the smallest level to date. 2012 has also been marked by extreme weather, intense storms, drought, heat waves, warming oceans and intense precipitation events in many regions of the world. While climate scientists consider the relationship between climate change and large storms like Hurricane Sandy or the 2010 drought in Russia, many still continue to hum and haw over the extent to which human-induced climate change (...) is responsible for the planet’s recent drastic weather patterns. What naysayers and climate change exponents can agree on is just how vulnerable we are to natural disasters. The need for balanced and informed discourses .. (shrink)
Fodor and LePore's reconstruction of the semantic holism debate in terms of "atomism" and "anatomism" is inadequate: it fails to highlight the important issue of how intentional contents are individuated, and excludes or obscures several possible positions on the metaphysics of content. One such position, "weak sociabilism" is important because it addresses concerns of Fodor and LePore's molecularist critics about conditions for possession of concepts, without abandoning atomism about content individuation. Properties like DEMOCRACY may be "theoretical" in the following sense: (...) only devices capable of inference can come to be selectively sensitive to such properties. Thus, such concepts cannot be punctate, although their contents are individuated, as atomism requires, independently of their conceptual connections. (shrink)
What is the impact of science on philosophy? In “Experiments in Ethics”, Kwame Anthony Appiah addresses this question for morality and ethics. Appiah suggests that scientific results may undermine moral intuitions by undermining our confidence in the actual sources of our intuitions, or by invalidating our factual assumptions about the causes of human behavior. Appiah worries that scientific results showing situational causes on human behavior force us to abandon the intuition, formalized in virtue ethics, that what matters is “who (...) you are on the inside”. In this review, we agree with Appiah that scientific results at once force and do not force us to abandon this intuition. We also propose that Appiah’s worry is due in part to an over-simplified conception of “internal causes”, shared widely among scientists and philosophers. By re-introducing the true richness of internal causes invoked in moral judgments, we hope to relax the tension between scientific results and moral intuitions. Ultimately, we propose that science can undermine and constrain but cannot affirm our commitment to specific moral intuitions. (shrink)
way on the information available in the contexts in which they are used, it’s not surprising that there is a minor but growing industry of work in semantics and the philosophy of language concerned with the precise nature of the context-dependency of epistemically modalized sentences. Take, for instance, an epistemic might-claim like..
s argument for the claim that social relations have to be conceived of as primary and main ontological category for an adequate analysis of the social realm. The author shows that Kings arguments do not succeed in fully replacing the categories of agency and structure that are pervasive in contemporary social theory. At most, King succeeds in delineating a neglected area of social theory, something that should be taken into account in addition to structure and agency. Key Words: (...) social ontology rules agency structure hermeneutics. (shrink)
Judeo-Christian and Anglo-Saxon forms of marriage have injected patrilineal values and companionate expectations into the Akan matrilineal family structure. As Anthony Appiah demonstrates, these infusions have generated severe strains in the matrikin social structures and, in extreme cases, resulted in the break up of families. In this essay, I investigate the ideological politics at play in this patrilinealization of Asante society.