In this paper we try to identify the roots of the persistent contemporary problems in our modernized agriculture: overproduction, loss of biodiversity and of soil fertility, the risk of large animal disease, social controversies on the lack of animal welfare and culling of animals, etc. Attention is paid to the historical development of present-day farming in Holland as an example of European agriculture. We see a blinkered quest for efficiency in the industrialization of agriculture since the Second World War. Key (...) factor is the cultural mindset at the foundation of our modern society, originating from the ideas of the enlightenment. It makes people vulnerable to ideologies, causing them to focus on a certain goal without considering the consequences. Due to the overemphasis on efficiency, modern industrial agriculture has never been comfortably embedded in its ecological and social context, and as a result displays the characteristics of an ideology. The cause of the inability to solve today’s problems is therefore deeper than simply a failure to apply the right mix of standard remedies. Unless stakeholders in farming start to counter this very one-sided approach to efficiency, modernization will continue to cause all kinds of friction. The implications of the results for agricultural policy, farming and further research are discussed. (shrink)
The irreversibility effect implies that a decision maker who neglects the prospect of receiving more complete information at later stages of a sequential decision problem will in certain cases too easily take an irreversible decision, as he ignores the existence of a positive option value in favour of reversible decisions. This option value represents the decision maker's flexibility to adapt subsequent decisions to the obtained information. In this paper we show that the economic models dealing with irreversibility as used in (...) environmental and capital investment decision making can be extended to emergency response decisions that produce important irreversible effects. In particular, we concentrate on the decision whether or not to evacuate an industrial area threatened by a possible nuclear accident. We show in a simple two-period evacuation decision model that non-optimal conclusions may be drawn when evacuation is regarded as a `now or never decision'. The robustness of these results is verified by means of a sensitivity analysis of the various model parameters. The importance of `options thinking' in this decision context is illustrated in an example. (shrink)
Open peer commentary on the article “Homeostats for the 21st Century? Simulating Ashby Simulating the Brain” by Stefano Franchi. Upshot: The target article proposes that Ashby’s investigations of the homeostat and ultrastability lead to a view of living systems as heteronomous, passive “sleeping” machines and thus are in fundamental conflict with concepts of autonomy developed by Jonas, Varela and others. I disagree, arguing that (1) the maintenance of essential variables within viability limits is not a passive process for living systems (...) and (2) the purpose of Ashby’s investigations of the homeostat was to investigate adaptivity, a subject that is related to, but clearly distinct from, autonomy. As such, I find Ashby’s work on adaptivity to be neither in opposition to nor in direct support of modern concepts of biological autonomy and suggest that a productive way forward involves the investigation of the intersection between these two fundamental properties of living systems. (shrink)
Technical thinking predominates in industrial society. It also predominates ethics. Virtually everything is viewed in terms of the technical model or—more broadly—the reductionistic machine model. Neither of these models has any room for life as a fundamental and decisive factor. Huge problems have been the result. Our appreciation of technology will change completely if the will to power and mastery will be exchanged for respect for all that lives, in all its multi-coloured variety and multiplicity. The aim of technology should (...) become, not to break down and to reduce reality in order to master and control, but to unfold and cause to flourish. We should nurture the perspective of the living and vibrant garden-city, of a culture that takes care of nature and the environment. An ethics of responsibility involves a large agenda. It calls for its own, distinct development, and a spiritual and philosophical struggle with the dominant traditions of ethics in our culture. (shrink)
In the history of medieval semantics, supposition theory is important especially in the twelfth and thirteenth centuries. In this theory the emphasis is on the term, whose properties one tries to determine. In the fourteenth century the focus is on the proposition, of which a term having supposition is a part. The idea is to analyse propositions in order to determine their truth (probare). The Speculum puerorum written by Richard Billingham was the standard textbook for this approach. It was very (...) influential in Europe. The theory of the probatio propositionis was meant to solve problems both in (empirically oriented) scientific propositions such as used by the Oxford Calculators, and theological propositions, especially those about the Trinity. The book is original, concise, but not clear in every respect. Studying medieval commentaries may help us to understand Richard's book. In the present paper three commentaries are presented. The commentators discussed problems about the status of Richard's book, and about its doctrine: what is the relation between probatio and truth, what is the relation between probatio and supposition, what exactly are mediate and immediate terms (e.g.is the pronoun 'this' mediate or immediate?). The commentators sometimes criticize Richard. For example, one of them argues, against Billingham, that the verb 'can' ampliates its subject term and is therefore mediate. (shrink)
These are two of only three medieval treatises known to the editors explicitly devoted to discussion of concepts. That is not to deny that other works treat extensively of concepts among other matters.
Pork producers in Western Europe moreand more encounter a variety of societalconcerns about pork and pork production. Sofar, however, producers predominantly focusedon low consumer prices, therewith addressingjust one concern. This resulted in an intensiveand large-scale production system, decreasinglyrelated to the area of farm land, andaccompanied with increasing concerns aboutsafety and healthiness of pork, animal welfare,environmental pollution, and others.An overview was given of possible concernsabout West-European pork production with theconsumers, citizens, and producers, and thoseconcerns are traced back to the pork productionsystem. (...) The various kinds and qualities ofinformation about the pork production system onwhich possible concerns are based have beenworked out extensively in this paper. Knowledgeabout the aspects of pork production that cangive rise to concerns can be used in two ways.First, the communication about those aspectstowards consumers and citizens can be adjustedor extended to give them better possibilitiesto make food choices or to develop their ownopinions about pork production. Second,producers could change the pork productionsystem such that it better satisfies consumersand citizens. Such adaptations are wellpossible, as three pork quality schemes, whichhave been evaluated, illustrate. However, mostof these adaptations can only be carried out atthe cost of the present low consumer prices andwill not occur spontaneously on a large scale.Therefore, accounting for the type andrelevance of the concerns, legislation isnecessary to address societal concerns in abalanced way such that pork production systemsbecome acceptable for the majority of oursociety. (shrink)
This article introduces the Völkerpsychologie of the German psychologist and liberal politician Willy Hellpach. It shows how Hellpach used the once venerable approach of Völkerpsychologie, introduced by Moritz Lazarus and Heymann Steinthal in the nineteenth century, to adapt to the Third Reich and distract the authorities from his political career. The article provides a close reading of Hellpach's main text on the subject, the Einführung in die Völkerpsychologie published in 1938, and explains the ease with which he was able to (...) make this approach compatible with Nazi ideology. Hellpach's case thus illustrates the proximity of national-liberal thinking to ?Nazi ideology?. Moreover, on account of the post-war reception of Hellpach's Völkerpsychologie by scholars such as Ralf Dahrendorf, the article examines the uneasy and incomplete repudiation of Völkerpsychologie after 1945. It concludes that the origins of widely used concepts such as ?national habitus? or ?national identity? can be traced back to the tradition of Völkerpsychologie and related studies of national character. (shrink)
At an international workshop on Transgenic Animals and Food Production in Stockholm in May 1997 Peter Sandoe, a Danish philosopher, characterized the difference between Europe and the United States in attitudes toward biotechnology as a difference between and To do so, of course, sins against the eleventh commandment, but the distinction he draws is a concise way to highlight the differences in policymaking in matters of biotechnology.