For several decades, business has operated according to the tenets of neoclassical economic theory, where the primary obligation of corporations is to maximize profit for shareholders. However, the larger social mandate for business has changed, represented by the rise of language such as "sustainable development", "corporate social responsibility" (CSR) and "stakeholder groups." Nevertheless, the theoretical shift implied by the use of such language has not occurred. Issues of sustainable development and CSR continue to be justified in the terms of neoclassical (...) economic theory through the rationalization of "doing well by doing good".Within this economic paradigm, CSR cannot move beyond enlightened self-interest (acting in socially responsible ways in order to further one''s own ends) because all behavior must be justified economically. This implies that corporate socially responsible behavior will simply cease when it becomes uneconomic, regardless of the impact on interrelated systems which in turn will re-impact the business realm. (shrink)
Schanbacer, William D: The Politics of Food: The Global Conflict Between Food Security and Food Sovereignty Content Type Journal Article DOI 10.1007/s10806-010-9267-1 Authors Cornelia Butler Flora, Iowa State University 317 East Hall Ames IA 50011-1070 USA Journal Journal of Agricultural and Environmental Ethics Online ISSN 1573-322X Print ISSN 1187-7863.
Arturo Escobar: Territories of Difference: Place, Movements, Life Content Type Journal Article DOI 10.1007/s10806-010-9254-6 Authors Cornelia Butler Flora, Iowa State University Charles F. Curtiss Distinguished Professor of Sociology and Agriculture and Life Sciences, 317 East Hall Ames IA 50011-1070 USA Journal Journal of Agricultural and Environmental Ethics Online ISSN 1573-322X Print ISSN 1187-7863.
Sara Parkin: The Positive Deviant: Sustainability Leadership in a Perverse World Content Type Journal Article Pages 1-2 DOI 10.1007/s10806-011-9319-1 Authors Cornelia Butler Flora, Charles F. Curtiss Distinguished Professor of Sociology and Agriculture and Life Sciences, 317 East Hall, Iowa State University, Ames, IA 50011-1070, USA Journal Journal of Agricultural and Environmental Ethics Online ISSN 1573-322X Print ISSN 1187-7863.
Attention to differences within communities is important in working toward sustainability of an agro-ecosystem. In the Sustainable Agriculture and Natural Resource Management Collaborative Research Support Program, gender made a difference in terms of access and control over key resources – financial, human, natural, and social capital – critical for project success. Efforts to build social capital among women proved critical in developing both collective and households strategies for sustainability. The sites differed greatly in both landscape and lifescape. Women's position within (...) each landscape provided an important perspective with which to assess and act toward achieving ecosystem, economic, and social sustainability. (shrink)
A farming systems approach to development has meant many things over the past 15 years, depending on its institutional and ecological setting, its target populations, and the goals motivating its implementation. Despite the diversity of approaches, and the sometimes rancorous discussion over which was best and why, the approach is now recognized in many places as the only one that can identify and respond to the needs of limited resource farm families, especially those in marginal ecosystems. Involving an iterative process (...) of diagnosis, design, testing and extension, the farming system approach to date has done more to change research objectives at national and international institutions than to change actual farmer practices. By legitimizing what limited resource farmers do and why they do it, a farming systems approach lends itself to policy analysis as well. Recent research in farming systems suggests greater attention should be payed to exogenous variables, including policy and infrastructure, as well as to development of technology that really responds to the felt needs of limited resource farmers in improving their level of living. (shrink)
During the 1980s many communities turned to grassroots activities to promote economic development, rather than relying on industrial recruitment strategies. We evaluate the characteristics of these projects, their benefits and costs, and obstacles they face in the development process. The data are drawn from a survey of more than one hundred communities in the United States. Self-development efforts do not appear to replace traditional rural economic development activities, but may complement them. Self-development activities produce a wide variety of jobs that (...) are taken primarily by local residents. The cost and availability of credit are major obstacles for self-development projects. Although self-development strategies should not be considered the primary economic development strategy for most rural communities, they do enable communities to build a more viable local economy. (shrink)
Policies are set by governments in an attempt to bring about desired ends within a society. These ends are often vaguely put and phrased in terms of values. Agrarianism, as a value, has been used to justify current farm policy. Yet, that policy has also been used as a mechanism to solve a variety of problems for the United States: those of the rural sector, farmers themselves, and even the land upon which they farm. This paper tries to separate the (...) problems that are part of the farm crisis and to show how policies designed to solve one of the problems for one set of actors, and frequently defended in the name of agrarianism, may actually exacerbate the problems for other actors. An overarching value, however, that may further inhibit problem solution and lead us further into an expensive and ineffectual farm program is the basic value that planning is somehow bad. Agrarianism and the value of spontaneity underlie some of the current decision-making or lack thereof in the farm program. (shrink)
Ideology is maintained anddriven by powerful symbols. Agricultural mediasuch as farm magazines achieve this byappropriating societal values of currency andincorporating them in imagery that accompanyadvertisements of agricultural products,including pesticides. Critical questionsrelating to environmental sustainability andsocial risks associated with the use of suchproducts are often masked as a result. Contentanalyses of two mid-western farm magazines fromthe 1940s to 1990s trace the socialconstruction of pesticide advertisements overtime, illuminating changing images ofpesticides in farm magazine advertisements inresponse to changes in the socio-culturalsetting. Changing images (...) reflect how theagricultural industry strategically repositionsitself to sustain market and corporate profitby co-opting dominant cultural themes atspecific historical moments in mediaadvertising. Sustainability implications in thebroad context of agriculture and society areexamined. (shrink)
This paper looks at the languages of empowerment and control as they are expressed by authors writing about “indigenous knowledge.” We performed a content analysis on CIKARD News, a newsletter dealing with the concept of indigenous knowledge. This concept has become increasingly prominent in the discourse of alternative development, addressing issues of ecological sustainability and the empowerment of the rural poor. However, mediated by institutions that perpetuate global and local power asymmetries, the empowering potential of indigenous knowledge may be bypassed. (...) Instead, officials, researchers, and practitioners may utilize this knowledge for their own perceived ends, however good their intentions. In addition, there is already evidence that an indigenous knowledge approach is seen by major agencies as beneficial for integrating poorer populations into the global economy. Our analysis suggests that tensions persist among and within the writings of these authors between the desire to empower and the tendency for development to control rural populations. (shrink)
The striking color patterns of butterflies and birds have long interested biologists. But how these animals see color is less well understood. Opsins are the protein components of the visual pigments of the eye. Color vision has evolved in butterflies through opsin gene duplications, through positive selection at individual opsin loci, and by the use of filtering pigments. By contrast, birds have retained the same opsin complement present in early-jawed vertebrates, and their visual system has diversified primarily through tuning of (...) the short-wavelength-sensitive photoreceptors, rather than by opsin duplication or the use of filtering elements. Butterflies and birds have evolved photoreceptors that might use some of the same amino acid sites for generating similar spectral phenotypes across 540 million years of evolution, when rhabdomeric and ciliary-type opsins radiated during the early Cambrian period. Considering the similarities between the two taxa, it is surprising that the eyes of birds are not more diverse. Additional taxonomic sampling of birds may help clarify this mystery. (shrink)
Diverse opinion papers related tothe question whether environmental benefits canbe achieved by the herbicide resistancetechnique have been published. But onlylong-term and large-scale field tests usingdifferent weed control methods and additionalagricultural vegetation surveys make itpossible to compare biodiversity effects ofdifferent strategies. A description of theamounts and frequencies of herbicideapplications, their direct and indirecteffects, and the impacts of farming practiceproves that the cropping history oftencompensates effects of an actual farmingpractice. The decline of beneficial plantspecies with all its negative side effects onbiodiversity will (...) continue. Long-termstrategies including improved integratedfarming, managing field boundary structures,and the reintroduction of seed dispersalmechanisms are necessary in order to reversethe trend. (shrink)
Several writers on animal ethics defend the abolition of most or all animal agriculture, which they consider an unethical exploitation of sentient non-human animals. However, animal agriculture can also be seen as a co-evolution over thousands of years, that has affected biology and behavior on the one hand, and quality of life of humans and domestic animals on the other. Furthermore, animals are important in sustainable agriculture. They can increase efficiency by their ability to transform materials unsuitable for human consumption (...) and by grazing areas that would be difficult to harvest otherwise. Grazing of natural pastures is essential for the pastoral landscape, an important habitat for wild flora and fauna and much valued by humans for its aesthetic value. Thus it seems that the environment gains substantially when animals are included in sustainable agricultural systems. But what about the animals themselves? Objections against animal agriculture often refer to the disrespect for animals’ lives, integrity, and welfare in present intensive animal production systems. Of the three issues at stake, neither integrity nor animal welfare need in principle be violated in carefully designed animal husbandry systems. The main ethical conflict seems to lie in the killing of animals, which is inevitable if the system is to deliver animal products. In this paper, we present the benefits and costs to humans and animals of including animals in sustainable agriculture, and discuss how to address some of the ethical issues involved. (shrink)
Suppose we agree to reject the view that privacy has narrow scope and consequently is irrelevant to the constitutional privacy cases. We then have (at least) these two options: (1) We might further emphasize and draw out similarities between tort and constitutional privacy claims in order to develop a notion of privacy fundamental to informational and Fourth Amendment privacy concerns as well as the constitutional cases. We can cite examples indicating this is a promising position. Consider consenting homosexuality conducted in (...) one's home, for instance. We view it as a private matter, whether the state is seeking to regulate the behavior, or if others are attempting to gain or exploit information about it. I believe basic conceptual similarities between tort and constitutional interests can be identified by showing that there is a range of similar reasons for protecting both tort and constitutional privacy concerns. We might worry, however, that a comprehensive concept of privacy may be too general to be very useful, given that privacy violations can be so diverse, and can arise, for example, from misuse of confidential information, from conduct that is intrusive even if no information is gained or disclosed, from disturbance of an intimate relationship, or from disruption of various other important aspects of one's life.(2) We could concede that whatever “privacy” means in the tort and Fourth Amendment cases, it means something different in the constitutional cases. Nevertheless, we might take that “something else” seriously as a distinct but legitimate use of the term which is not “spurious” but is reflected in our ordinary language. This appears to me to be a fruitful alternative. After all, contrary to Henkin's view that tort privacy is “what most people mean by privacy,” the term is often used in contexts beyond informational privacy and clearly related to the interests at stake in the constitutional cases. Thus, for example, in a pamphlet explaining how to protect children by teaching them how to say “No!” to strangers without making them paranoid or antisocial, parents and teachers are told, Children have a right to privacy. Teach it. Reinforce it. One of the ways to help children prevent sexual assault is to encourage them to develop a sense of physical integrity. A sense that they have a right to their own body space and privacy. Just as we allow them to close the door when they use the bathroom, we must allow them to say no to any unwanted physical affection and touch. Flora Calao and Tamar Hosansky, “The Key to Having Fun is Being Safe: Teaching Personal Safety to Children,” The Safety and Fitness Exchange, 1123 Broadway, N.Y., N.Y. 10010. Unfortunately, the most obvious starting point for identifying the sense of private relevant to the constitutional cases is extremely worrisome. The Court itself has said ... only personal rights that can be deemed “fundamental”...are included in this guarantee of personal privacy...the right has some extension to activities relating to marriage...procreation...contraception...family relationships... and child rearing and education.Roe v. Wade, 410 U.S. 113 (1973).The difficulty, of course, is that little more is offered by way of explanation of which rights are “personal” or “fundamental” or both. Focusing on marriage makes Roe v. Wade difficult to understand given that Ms. Roe was unmarried, and attending only to family issues does not help us make sense of the Stanley case protecting one's right to view pornography in one's home. It is perhaps more problematic that decisions such as what color shoes to wear are reasonably viewed as personal, yet are far from fundamental enough to warrant protection. And regulations governing the draft and employment, for example, are not viewed as privacy invasions although they might be said to interfere with matters of one's life that are both fundamental and personal in the vague sense described.Before we give up in frustration, however, I would urge that we recall that even in tort law the notion of privacy has been evolving through a constellation of judgments. Although there is no fixed way of using the term which we then proceed to analyze, the concept of privacy has not in those cases been taken to be meaningless or empty. Similarly, there is reason to believe that the scope of a “personal and fundamental” notion of privacy relevant to the constitutional cases can be further delineated through a consideration of cases, especially since it seems to me that in many cases application of the term is clear and unproblematic. A decision to have a vasectomy, for example, can uncontroversially be said to be a personal and fundamental one, and it is in that sense private. We fail to acknowledge the personal significance in an individual's life of forcing or refusing him the operation if we deny that this important sense of privacy is relevant to such a decision merely because an interest in determining for oneself what one ought to do is also at risk.Of course, once it is settled that something is a private matter, it is a separate issue to decide whether or not, in some social context, an invasion of it can be justified. Thus, I would claim, a mandatory sterilization program for male recidivists or for those in a country suffering grave poverty and overpopulation does invade privacy, and the social or legal question is whether or not the invasion can, in the particular circumstances, be justified. Although all will agree that both individual and social interests must be balanced by moral philosophers as well as the courts, in conflicts we will not always agree on the weight to be accorded individual claims.I have not provided a constitutional defense for citing privacy as one right at stake in the constitutional privacy cases. Nor have I attempted to enter the debate about how strictly to interpret the Constitution. But if I am correct, then we can agree there is an important interest in privacy at issue in those cases without merely conflating privacy and autonomy or liberty, and can continue the process of marking out its boundaries. If we reach such agreement, we will have made considerable progress. Moreover, the implications of this view are significant. Current constitutional standards, controversial though they may be, require “strict scrutiny” for cases concerning “fundamental values,” and privacy has been judged to be one such value. Thus these privacy claims have a greater chance of being protected when they conflict with other rights or general interests than they would have if only liberty, or freedom from governmental interference, were involved. (shrink)
Climate change represents a significant challenge to the entire planet and its inhabitants. While few, if any, will be able to escape totally the effects of climate change, it will fall most heavily, at least initially, on the poor, regardless of where they reside. We may observe already possible scenarios. The tragic situation in Darfur may be less an ethnic conflict and more a clash between marginal farmers and herdsmen in an increasingly more arid local climate. More powerful storms on (...) the scale of hurricane Katrina, which affected the poor more than other economic groups, may become commonplace. The alteration of the maple sugar cycle may be a harbinger of stress on the world's flora and fauna that humanity depends upon. Mainstream climatologists have concluded that human behavior, primarily the effects of industrialization, causes human-induced climate change. Left unchecked climate change will have serious consequences for humanity, especially the poor. Business, the primary agent of industrialization, is both the problem and the solution. This paper will apply the ethics of philosophers John Rawls (the difference principle), Robert Nozick (the Lockean Proviso, climate is a natural resource), and Aristotle, along with the work of strategist Michael Porter. Understanding how climate change management fits into a firm's strategic opportunity will contribute to the ability of business to develop the technologies and business processes necessary to cope with climate change. The paper will conclude with a brief discussion of GE's Ecomagination program as an example of a promising moral response to climate change. (shrink)
I offer a novel interpretation of Aristotle's psychology and notion of rationality, which draws the line between animal and specifically human cognition. Aristotle distinguishes belief (doxa), a form of rational cognition, from imagining (phantasia), which is shared with non-rational animals. We are, he says, “immediately affected” by beliefs, but respond to imagining “as if we were looking at a picture.” Aristotle's argument has been misunderstood; my interpretation explains and motivates it. Rationality includes a filter that interrupts the pathways between cognition (...) and behavior. This prevents the subject from responding to certain representations. Stress and damage compromise the filter, making the subject respond indiscriminately, as non-rational animals do. Beliefs are representations that have made it past the filter, which is why they can “affect [us] immediately.” Aristotle's claims express ceteris paribus generalizations, subject to exceptions. No list of provisos could turn them into non-vacuous universal claims, but this does not rob them of their explanatory power. Aristotle's cognitive science resolves a tension we grapple with today: it accounts for the specialness of human action and thinking within a strictly naturalistic framework. The theory is striking in its insight and explanatory power, instructive in its methodological shortcomings. (shrink)
Due to the significant and often careless human impact on the natural environment, there are serious problems facing the people of today and of future generations. To date, ethical, aesthetic, religious, and economic arguments for the conservation and protection of the natural environment have made relatively little headway. Another approach, one capable of garnering attention and motivating action, would be welcome. There is another approach, one that I will call a rights approach. Speaking generally, this approach is an attempt to (...) address environmental issues via the language and theory of legal and moral rights. Ultimately, it is our duties to our fellow humans that explain why we have duties regarding the natural environment. There are three main contenders among theories that can be called rights approaches to environmental issues. The first identifies the (alleged) human right to a healthful environment as the source of our obligations to conserve and protect nature. The second approach has it that our duties to nature arise from the rights of the constituents of nature themselves, its flora and fauna. The third approach to addressing environmental problems via rights is, I argue, the best path to environmental conservation and protection. This approach—which grounds duties toward nature on the human right to health—has the benefits of being a straightforward, uncontroversial, and simple approach to issues and problems that desperately need to be resolved. (shrink)
This paper challenges the presumed triumph of laboratory life in the history of twentieth-century biomedical research through an exploration of the relationships between laboratory, clinic, and field in the regional understanding and treatment of allergy in America. In the early establishment of allergy clinics, many physicians opted to work closely with botanists knowledgeable about the local flora in the region to develop pollen extracts in desensitization treatments, rather than rely upon pharmaceutical companies that had adopted a principle of standardized (...) vaccines beholden to bacteriology that gave no thought to the particularities of place where their products were to be sold. Natural historical sciences like plant ecology and systematics furnished important knowledge, resources, and practices in establishing a medical marketplace for allergy in America. And botanists similarly profited from biomedicine and allergic bodies in extending their network of knowledge about the plant world. (shrink)
What are the resources and needs, the strengths and the vulnerabilities of patients, of society, or of nature? How do we evaluate the societal potential of scientific discovery? It is fairly well assured that we are influencing the terms of existence of many inhabitants of this planet, from flora to fauna to humans. Moreover, history has shown that while technologies can be used neutrally, they can be (and have been) used to the great benefit – or the great detriment (...) – of human life and the fate of the world as a whole. How various types of knowledge and technological ability will be deployed is up to us, individually and collectively. How such information and ability should be deployed, and for what reasons, are questions at the core of bioethical inquiry. These are the "expanding horizons in bioethics" to which this volume refers. This volume is comprised of fourteen essays. It is a rare gathering of scholarly opinion, featuring well-known experts from a diversity of disciplines. The topics addressed are of immediate concern to the public. The essays ask questions about human nature, genetic technologies, reproductive rights, human subjects research, and environmental issues – all in provocative and challenging new ways. Yet the themes that emerge throughout the volume are of enduring interest to anyone concerned about the interactions of scientific development, ethics, and society. This volume is of interest to students and teachers of bioethics and related topics, as well as to professionals working in these disciplines. (shrink)
The distinction between taxonomic plant geography and ecological plant geography was never absolute: it would be historically inaccurate to portray them as totally divergent. Taxonomists occasionally borrowed ecological concepts, and ecologists never completely repudiated taxonomy. Indeed, some botanists pursued the two types of geographic study. The American taxonomist Henry Allan Gleason (1882–1975), for one, made noteworthy contributions to both. Most of Gleason's research appeared in short articles, however. He never published a major synthetic work comparable in scope or influence to (...) the ecological texts of Clements, Schimper, and Warming.Despite exceptions such as Gleason, most plant geographers throughout the twentieth century have emphasized the distinction between ecological and taxonomic plant geographies. Why have these distinct traditions developed? In his book Geographical Ecology, Robert MacArthur has suggested a psychological explanation for the dichotomy: “Unraveling the history of a phenemenon has always appealed to some people and describing the machinery of the phenomenon to others... The ecologist and physical scientist tend to be machinery oriented, whereas paleontologists and most biogeographers tend to be history oriented.”46Without necessarily rejecting MacArthur's explanation, my study suggests a more complex relationship between taxonomic and ecological plant geographies. At the turn of the century a group of botanists self-consciously defined a new area of botanical research. These ecologists defined their new discipline in opposition to what they believed was a moribund, nineteenth-century, natural-history tradition. They turned from historically oriented, descriptive, taxonomic plant geography to experimental physiology. The new ecological plant geography was to focus on communities rather than on species, on proximate environmental causes rather than on historical explanations, and on physiological experiments rather than on morphological descriptions.As we look back, much of the “revolt from morphology” was rhetorical. Ecologists never completely replaced species as units of distribution, nor did they set geography on an explicitly physiological basis. Indeed, much of early ecological research was, quite simply, descriptive. Plant communities were defined in terms of dominant species, representative life forms, or general physiognomy. The underlying physiological basis for community characteristics was more often assumed than demonstrated by experiments.Despite the fact that ecological plant geography was not a truly physiological specialty, it was significantly different from more traditional taxonomic plant geography. First, ecologists were less explicitly evolutionary in their approach than were taxonomists. Following Darwin, most taxonomic plant geographers viewed distribution in historical terms. In contrast, early ecologists tended to ignore the traditional geographic problems. Most ecologists were skeptical of historical explanations, emphasizing instead the proximate, environmental causes of distribution. While some nineteenth-century biogeographers had studied the correlation between climate and vegetation, twentieth-century ecologists focused much more sharply on the interactions between plant and environment. Plant ecologists did not place biogeography on a physiological basis, but by emphasizing physiology they laid the foundation for a more detailed understanding of adaption. This emphasis on physiology and environmental causation was a second distinguishing characteristic of ecological plant geography. Finally, the idea of the plant community, articulated by Eugenius Warming in 1895, provided ecologists with a unique perspective on the distribution of plants. For early ecologists, the community was more than an assemblage of species; it was an integrated unit. The distribution of these units became the major focus of ecological plant geography. Communities never completely replaced species as geographic units, and the distinction between flora and vegetation was often blurred. Nonetheless, ecologists were innovative in studying the distribution of structurally and functionally integrated groups of plants.In the twentieth century plant geography has occupied an anomalous position in biology. It has not developed into an autonomous discipline, nor has it been incorporated into the developing discipline of ecology. Ecologists and taxonomists have pursued fairly distinct styles of geographic research, with the result that two relatively independent approaches to the study of plant distribution have persisted. (shrink)
Habitats (where we live), habits (how we live), and inhabitants (who we are) constitute an ecosystem unit. The biosphere is composed of a reticulate mosaic of these habitat-habit-inhabitant units, where humans (with their indigenous languages, ecological knowledge, and practices) have coevolved. Today, these diverse ecosystem units are being violently destroyed by the imposition of a single global colonial cultural model. In Cape Horn at the southern end of the Americas, educators, authorities, and decision makers do not know about the native (...) habitats, language, and flora, and do not distinguish between Cape Horn’s flora and the flora that grows in other parts of the country or the world. In contrast, indigenous people and old residents have a detailed knowledge, but they do not participate in education, and decision making. It is not Homo sapiens in general, but bioculturally biased educators, authorities, and decision makers who need to be transformed into (educated and responsible) members and citizen of biocultural communities. The Omora Ethnobotanical Park educational program was launched to contribute to a biocultural citizenship involving three critical steps: (1) the disclosing of biocultural diversity with a “fine filter” approach that permits understanding of the cultural and ecological diversity hidden by general universal labels; (2) direct “face-to-face” encounters with human and nonhuman co-inhabitants; and (3) actions for protection of habitats and implementation of interpretative spaces that facilitate direct encounters and conservation of biocultural diversity. These steps have been implemented at local and regional scales through the creation of the Omora Ethnobotanical Park and the UNESCO Cape Horn Biosphere Reserve. (shrink)
The concerns of environmental ethics on other continents fail in Antarctica, which is without sustainable development, or ecosystems for a “land ethic,” or even familiar terrestrial fauna and flora. An Antarctic regime, developing politically, has been developing an ethics, underrunning the politics, remarkably exemplified in the Madrid Protocol, protecting “the intrinsic value of Antarctica.” Without inhabitants, claims of sovereignty are problematic. Antarctica is a continent for scientists and, more recently, tourists. Both focus on wild nature. Life is driven to (...) extremes; these extremes can intensify an ethic. Antarctica ascommon heritage transforms into wilderness, sanctuary, wonderland. An appropriate ethics for the seventh continent differs radically from that for the other six. (shrink)