An aretaic objection to agricultural biotechnology

Considerations of virtue and character appear from time to time in the agricultural biotechnology literature. Critics of the technologies often suggest that they are contrary to some virtue (usually humility) or do not fit with the image of ourselves and the human place in the world that we ought to embrace. In this article, I consider the aretaic or virtue-based objection that to engage in agricultural biotechnology is to exhibit arrogance, hubris, and disaffection. In section one, I discuss Gary Comstock's treatment of this objection. In section two, I provide an alternative interpretation of the objection that more accurately reflects the concerns of those who offer the criticism than does Comstock's standard interpretation. In sections three and four, I assess the objection. I argue that despite its merits, the objection does not justify global opposition to agricultural biotechnology. Instead, it favors a limited endorsement position not unlike the one defended by Comstock.
Keywords agricultural biotechnology  aretaic objection  Gary Comstock  humility  limited endorsement  virtue ethics
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DOI 10.1023/B:JAGE.0000033078.05859.08
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Georgiana Kirkham (2009). Is Biotechnology the New Alchemy? Studies in History and Philosophy of Science Part A 40 (1):70-80.

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