Producers, traders, and consumers oforganic food regularly use the concept of thenatural (naturalness) to characterize organicagriculture and or organic food, in contrast tothe unnaturalness of conventional agriculture.Critics sometimes argue that such use lacks anyrational (scientific) basis and only refers tosentiment. In our project, we made an attemptto clarify the content and the use of theconcepts of nature and naturalness in organicagriculture, to relate this conception todiscussions within bioethical literature, andto draw the implications for agriculturalpractice and policy.Qualitative interviews were executed with (...) arange of people in the field of organicagriculture and with consumers of organicproducts, on the basis of a list of statementsabout the meaning of the concept of naturalnessformulated by the authors. Based on the resultsof the interviews, we distinguished 3 aspectsof the concept of naturalness: natural as theorganic (life processes), natural as theecological, and natural as referring to thecharacteristic nature of an entity. We relatedthese conceptual aspects to three mainapproaches within the field of organicagriculture: the no chemicals approach, theagro-ecological approach, and the integrityapproach. It became clear that these approachescan also be recognized in the change ofattitude of farmers as they convert fromconventional to organic agriculture, and in theattitudes of consumers of organic foodproducts. (shrink)
The creation of transgenic animals by means of modern techniques of genetic manipulation is evaluated in the light of different interpretations of the concept of intrinsic value. The zoocentric interpretation, emphasizing the suffering of individual, sentient animals, is described as an extension of the anthropocentric interpretation. In a biocentric or ecocentric approach the concept of intrinsic value first of all denotes independence of humans and a non-instrumental relation to animals. In the zoocentric approach of Bernard Rollin, genetic engineering is seen (...) as a morally neutral tool, as long as the animal does not suffer as a result of it. Robert Colwell who defends an ecocentric ethic, makes a sharp distinction between wild animals and domesticated animals. Genetic manipulation of wild species is a serious moral issue, in contrast to genetic manipulation of domesticated species which is no problem at all for Colwell. Both authors do not take the species-specific nature (or telos) of domesticated animals seriously. When domestication is seen as a process between the two poles of the wild animal and the human construct (which can be patented), the technique of genetic manipulation can only be seen as a further encroachment upon the intrinsic value of animals. At the level of molecular biology, the concept of an animal's telos loses its meaning. (shrink)
In this article I will explore the problem of 'forbidden knowledge' on the basis of my own experience in the Netherlands with the development of a regulative framework for all research involving the production and use of genetically modified animals. Although it is not yet definitely settled, this regulative framework is based on what is called the 'no, unless'-principle. The 'no, unless' policy has been defined by Brom and Schroten in the following way.
This paper contains some considerations on the relation between philosophy of science and science, in particular biology. There is a contrast between formalistic and pragmatic approaches to the structure of scientific thought, which is illustrated by the different viewpoints on the nature of explanation. In an appendix some aspects of the logical structure of teleological explanation are discussed.
Recent interest in the social and ethical aspects of biology raises the question of the disciplinary status of the study of these aspects of biology . In the traditional interpretations of theoretical biology the social and ethical aspects are usually not explicitly mentioned. In this article arguments are given for inclusion of the study of these aspects of biology within a broadened conception of theoretical biology.