F. Bailey Norwood and Jayson L. Lusk: Compassion by the Pound: The Economics of Farm Animal Welfare Content Type Journal Article Category Book Review Pages 1-5 DOI 10.1007/s10806-012-9377-z Authors Paul B. Thompson, WK Kellogg Professor of Agricultural, Food and Community Ethics, Department of Philosophy, Michigan State University, 503 South Kedzie Hall, East Lansing, MI 48824-1032, USA Journal Journal of Agricultural and Environmental Ethics Online ISSN 1573-322X Print ISSN 1187-7863.
Recent developments in synthetic biology are described and characterized as moving the era of biotechnology into platform technologies. Platform technologies enable rapid and diffuse innovations and simultaneous product development in diffuse markets, often targeting sectors of the economy that have traditionally been thought to have little relationship to one another. In the case of synthetic biology, pharmaceutical and biofuel product development are occurring interactively. But the regulatory and ethical issues associated with these two applications share very little overlap. As such, (...) there is some risk that focus on traditional medical applications, for which the ethical expertise is highly developed, will overshadow the ethical issues that arise in connection with land use and its attendant socioeconomic consequences, especially in the developing world. The 2010 report of the Presidential Commission for the Study of Bioethics exhibits this tendency. (shrink)
An environmental, climate mitigation rationale for research and development (R&D) on liquid transportation fuels derived from plants emerged among many scientists and engineers during the last decade. However, between 2006 and 2010, this climate ethic for pursuing biofuel became politically entangled and conceptually confused with rationales for encouraging greater use of plant-based ethanol that were both unconnected to climate ethics and potentially in conflict with the value-commitments providing a mitigation-oriented reason to promote and develop new and expanded sources of biofuel. (...) I argue that the conceptual construct of technological trajectories provides a fecund approach to the ethical evaluation of R&D strategies in the case of plant-based liquid transportation fuels. The idea of a trajectory has a current use in the literature of science studies and aptly summarizes a number of themes that are critical to the evaluation of tools and techniques whose future shape, design, applications and potential consequences are necessarily somewhat speculative. In the case of biofuels, it is the imagined future trajectory that provides the basis for resistance to an emerging technology, rather than the present-day technical capabilities and the unexpected consequences of biofuel development. (shrink)
Ideas for How to Take Wicked Problems Seriously Content Type Journal Article Pages 1-5 DOI 10.1007/s10806-011-9348-9 Authors Kyle Powys Whyte, Department of Philosophy, Michigan State University, 503 S. Kedzie Hall, East Lansing, MI 48824, USA Paul B. Thompson, Department of Philosophy, Michigan State University, 503 S. Kedzie Hall, East Lansing, MI 48824, USA Journal Journal of Agricultural and Environmental Ethics Online ISSN 1573-322X Print ISSN 1187-7863.
Recent publications by Pogge ( Global ethics: seminal essays. St. Paul: Paragon House 2008 ) and by Singer ( The life you can save: acting now to end world poverty. New York: Random House 2009 ) have resuscitated a debate over the justifiability of famine relief between Singer and ecologist Garrett Hardin in the 1970s. Yet that debate concluded with a general recognition that (a) general considerations of development ethics presented more compelling ethical problems than famine relief; and (b) some (...) form of development would be essential to avoiding the problems of growth noted by Hardin. Better than renewing the debate, we should recognize two points. First, food needs do indeed evoke a moral response that is more direct and compelling than the philosophical positions often generated to rationalize a duty to bring aid. As such the argument for feeding hungry people cannot be generalized into a paradigm for development ethics without distortions that undercut the morally valid elements in Singer’s original argument. Second, contrary to prevailing assumptions in present day development ethics, food aid and famine relief continue to be important priorities for international agencies, notably the World Food Program. Emergency food assistance, the nominal topic of Singer’s original article, thus is an important issue for agricultural as well as development ethics, though one that should indeed be seen as distinct from more complex duties to address the conditions of chronic poverty and underdevelopment. (shrink)
Agrarian political philosophies since ancient Greece stress the role of agriculture in forming political solidarity and civic virtue. More recent transformations suggest a way to conjoin these elements of what makes a polity politically sustainable with environmental sensitivity and literacy.
Mainstream environmental ethics grew out of an approach to value that was rooted in a particular conception of rationality and rational choice. As weaknesses in this approach have become more evident, environmental philosophers have experimented with both virtue ethics and with pragmatism as alternative starting points for developing a more truly ecological orientation to environmental philosophy. However, it is possible to see both virtue ethics and pragmatism as emerging from older philosophical traditions that are here characterized as “agrarian.” Agrarian philosophy (...) stresses the role of nature, soil and climate in the formation of moral character as well as social and political institutions. As such, reaching back to the agrarian tradition may provide a way to move forward with both virtue oriented themes as well as pragmatist themes in developing ecological ethics. (shrink)
A noticeable push toward using agricultural crops for ethanol production and for undertaking research to expand the range of possible biofuels began to dominate discussions of agricultural science and policy in the United States around 2005. This paper proposes two complementary philosophical approaches to examining the philosophical questions that should be posed in connection with this turn of events. One stresses a critique of underlying epistemological commitments in the scientific models being developed to determine the feasibility of various biofuels proposals. (...) The second begins with a broader set of questions about the philosophical goals of agriculture, then queries the place that a turn to biofuels might have within the philosophy of agriculture. Both are portrayed as viable and important. The paper itself is a preliminary stage-setting reflection on the need for these two types of philosophical inquiry. (shrink)
Nanotechnologies that have been linked to the possibility of enhancing cognitive capabilities of human beings might also be deployed to reduce or eliminate such capabilities in non-human vertebrate animals. A surprisingly large literature on the ethics of such disenhancement has been developed in response to the suggestion that it would be an ethically defensible response to animal suffering both in medical experimentation and in industrial livestock production. However, review of this literature illustrates the difficulty of formulating a coherent ethical debate. (...) Well structured arguments for disenhancement can be made on the basis of mainstream views on the basis of ethical obligations to animals, but these arguments have not been persuasive against the moral intuition that disenhancements are unethical. At the same time, attempts to ground these intuitions in a coherent philosophical doctrine have been plagued by logical fallacies and question begging assertions. As such, the debate over animal disenhancement forecasts an enduring conundrum with respect to the core question of transforming the nature of sentient beings, and this conundrum is logically independent of claims that relate either to the distinctive of human beings or to issues deriving from the emphasis on enhancement. (shrink)
John Steinbeck’s 1939 novel can be given a reading that links events and the mentality of characters to mainstream schools of liberal and neo-liberal political theory: libertarianism, egalitarianism, and utilitarianism. Each of these schools is sketched in outline and applied to topics in rural political culture. While it is likely that Steinbeck himself would have identified with an egalitarian or utilitarian view, he resists the temptation to deny his Okie characters an authentic voice that matches none of these schools so (...) well as it articulates an agrarian mentality once associated with Thomas Jefferson and today articulated by Wendell Berry. This reading of The Grapes of Wrath, in turn, can be interpreted as both a rebuke to contemporary social theorists who continue to impose an ill-fitting left-right dichotomy on working class political culture in rural America and as a roadmap suggesting ways that philosophy and rural sociology might engage one another more directly and productively with respect to contemporary rural development and environmental quality issues. (shrink)
I will argue that one class of issues in computer ethics oftenassociated with privacy and a putative right to privacy isbest-analyzed in terms that make no substantive reference toprivacy at all. These issues concern the way that networkedinformation technology creates new ways in which conventionalrights to personal security can be threatened. However onechooses to analyze rights, rights to secure person and propertywill be among the most basic, the least controversial, and themost universally recognized. A risk-based approach to theseissues provides a (...) clearer statement of what is ethicallyimportant, as well as what is ethically problematic. Once theissues of security have been articulated clearly, it becomespossible to make out genuine issues of privacy in contrast tothem. (shrink)
Debates over the future of agriculture in North Americaestablish a dialectical opposition between conventional,industrial agriculture and alternative, sustainable agriculture.This opposition has roots that extend back to the 18th century inthe United States, but the debate has taken a number ofsurprising turns in the 20th century. Originally articulated as aphilosophy of the left, industrial agriculture has utilitarianmoral foundations. In the US and Canada, the articulation of analternative to industrial agriculture has drawn upon threecentral themes: the belief that agriculture is, in some (...) way, tiedto democracy; the belief that complex bureaucratic organizationsare inherently opposed to human interests; and the belief thatthe family farms characteristic of 19th century North Americatend to produce people of superior moral character. It has proveddifficult to weave these themes into a coherent vision ofagriculture for the 21st century. Often, risk and health-basedconcerns are the basis for public criticism of conventionalagriculture, but these do not conflict with the utilitarianorientation of the industrial model, and are easily incorporatedinto it. If there is to be a philosophical debate over the futureof agriculture, we must find some way to rehabilitate thequasi-Aristotelean view of agriculture that emerges from thethree critical themes noted above. (shrink)
The first European Congress on Agriculturaland Food Ethics was held at Wageningen University andResearch Center (WUR), Wageningen, The Netherlands, March 4–6, 1999. This was the inaugural conference forthe newly forming European Society for Agricultural andFood Ethics – EUR-SAFE – and around two hundredpeople from across Europe (and a handful of NorthAmericans) participated. Following theCongress/conference, a small (16 people), two-dayworkshop funded in part by the US National ScienceFoundation focused on similarities and differencesbetween the US and the EU regarding publicdiscourse/debate on food (...) biotechnology. A briefoverview of the Congress and the follow-up workshopsuggests what lessons AFHVS and ASFS might learn fromEuropean experience of agricultural and food ethics. (shrink)
The essays in this volume critically analyze and revitalize agrarian philosophy by tracing its evolution in the classical American philosophy of key figures such as Franklin, Jefferson, Emerson, Thoreau, Dewey, and Royce.
Although cloning may eventually become an important technology for livestock production, four ethical issues must be addressed before the practice becomes widespread. First, researchers must establish that the procedure is not detrimental to the health or well-being of affected animals. Second, animal research institutions should evaluate the net social benefits to livestock producers by weighing the benefits to producers against the opportunity cost of research capacity lost to biomedical projects. Third, scientists should consider the indirect effects of cloning research on (...) the larger ethical issues surrounding human cloning. Finally, the market structure for products of cloned animals should protect individual choice, and should recognize that many individuals find the prospect of cloning (or consuming cloned animals) repugnant. Analysis of these four issues is complicated by spurious arguments alleging that cloning will have a negative impact on environment and genetic diversity. (shrink)
Risk communication poses a challenge to ordinary norms of truth-telling because it can easily mislead. Analyzing this challenge in terms of a systematic divergence between expertise and public attitudes fails to recognize how two specific features of the concept of risk play a role in managing daily affairs. First, evaluating risk always incorporates an estimate of the reliability of information. Since risk communication is an effort at providing information, audiences will naturally and appropriately incorporate their assessment of the reliability of (...) the risk communicator into their assessment of the risk as such. Second, one conceptual and grammatical feature of the concept of risk is to categorize experience as non-routine and demanding further deliberation. That is, the whole point of calling something a risk can be to distinguish it from activities or phenomena that need no further attention. Risk communications that stress relative comparisons of measured probabilities and expected utilities can be inconsistent with both features of our concept of risk. At best they mislead; at worst they undermine our society’s capacity to cope with risk. While there are no simple answers to these two conundrums, technical experts should bear them in mind when communicating with the broader public. (shrink)
Biotechnology applied to traditional foodanimals raises ethical issues in three distinctcategories. First are a series of issues that arise inthe transformation of pigs, sheep, cattle and otherdomesticated farm animals for purposes that deviatesubstantially from food production, including forxenotransplantation or production of pharmaceuticals.Ethical analysis of these issues must draw upon theresources of medical ethics; categorizing them asagricultural biotechnologies is misleading. The secondseries of issues relate to animal welfare. Althoughone can stipulate a number of different philosophicalfoundations for the ethical assessment of welfare,most (...) either converge on Bernard Rollins principle ofwelfare conservation (Rollin, 1995), or devolve intodebates over the ethical significance of animaltelos or species integrity. The principle of welfareconservation prohibits disfunctional geneticengineering of food animals, but would permit alteringanimals biological functions, especially when (as inmaking animals less susceptable to pain or suffering)do so improves an individual animals well being.Objections to precisely this last form of geneticengineering stress telos or species integrity asconstraints on modification of animals, and thisrepresents the third class of ethical issues. Most whohave formulated such arguments have failed to developcoherent positions, but the notion of species being,derived from the 19th century German tradition,presents a promising way to analyze the basis forresisting the transformation of animal natures. (shrink)
1. Each NABC member institutions should ensure that subject matter on ethical issues associated with food and agricultural biotechnology is systematically integrated into the curriculum of their institution. The pattern of implementation will vary a teach institution, but we expect that some combination of the following three strategies will be employed at most institutions. a) Modules Included in Basic and Applied Science Courses b) Modules Included in General Courses on Applied Ethics c) Special courses on Ethics and Food Biotechnology 2. (...) Each NABC member institution should develop an institutional mechanism for supporting faculty interest and research on ethical issues. Again, implementation will vary. In some institutions, an informal network of interested colleagues will fulfill this function, but in many places an annual workshop or a formal faculty/center will be needed to carry this out. (shrink)
Public controversy over animalbiotechnology is analyzed as a case that illustratestwo broad theoretical approaches for linking science,political or ethical theory, and public policy. Moralpurification proceeds by isolating the social,environmental, animal, and human health impacts ofbiotechnology from each other in terms of discretecategories of moral significance. Each of thesecategories can also be isolated from the sense inwhich biotechnology raises religious or metaphysicalissues. Moral purification yields a comprehensive andsystematic account of normative issues raised bycontroversial science. Hybridization proceeds bytaking concern for all these (...) elements to be a mark ofsound moral character. The advocate of hybridizationinfers that those who employ a strategy ofpurification seek to avoid accountability by dividingissues, and hence are not to be trusted. Lack of trustincreases perceived risk and challenges the legitimacyof government regulations to control social,environmental, and human health risks that areestablished under separate mandate, and administeredby separate agencies.The close alignment between government agencies, theiracademic affines, and the categories of purificationplaces the purified analysis in a favored politicalposition. Legitimation of science-based policy inareas like animal biotechnology becomes problematicbecause the concern of those who would take a hybridapproach (arguably the majority of lay persons) tounderstanding controversial science are excluded.Ironically, this exclusion heightens the perception ofrisk from animal biotechnology. The paper concludeswith a call for procedural approaches to incorporatingthe hybrid view of science‘s moral significance. (shrink)