Agriculture and Human Values 4 (2-3):100-104 (1987)

This article is a response to Paul Thompson's recent claim that individual farmers cannot have obligations to practice sustainable methods unless a large number of other producers also use them. Using a moral rights framework, I explain the relation of human interests and needs to the duties of individuals to accomplish moral social goals; i.e., those moral goals whose accomplishment requires the cooperation of other persons. The purpose is to show that individual action to promote sustainability does have moral value. Duties to practice sustainable methods are derived from the rights of all persons to adequate food and nutrition. These rights themselves are grounded, not in individual subjective desires or preferences, but in the genuine interests all persons (present and future) have in the satisfaction of basic biological needs to sustain life and health. The duty of each person is correlative to the rights of the others, and fulfillment of the duty requires social action, in this case practicing sustainable methods in farming. If others are unwilling or constrained from fulfilling their obligations, then duties to take other kinds of actions may be derived from the primary duty to attain the goal of sustainability. Actions to secure social cooperation may include, for example, exhorting others to participate and taking political action to force restructuring of agricultural policy, as well as practicing sustainable methods on one's own farm.While frameworks of individual responsibility have been attacked as failing to capture the moral importance of holistic outcomes, it is argued that such problems are related to human motivation rather than to the structure of our moral systems. I conclude that a properly elaborated system of moral rights and duties connected with an adequate moral psychology can account for our duties to other humans to accomplish the goal of a sustainable agriculture.
Keywords No keywords specified (fix it)
Categories (categorize this paper)
DOI 10.1007/BF01530646
Edit this record
Mark as duplicate
Export citation
Find it on Scholar
Request removal from index
Revision history

Download options

PhilArchive copy

Upload a copy of this paper     Check publisher's policy     Papers currently archived: 71,464
External links

Setup an account with your affiliations in order to access resources via your University's proxy server
Configure custom proxy (use this if your affiliation does not provide a proxy)
Through your library

References found in this work BETA

No references found.

Add more references

Citations of this work BETA

No citations found.

Add more citations

Similar books and articles

Collectives' Duties and Collectivisation Duties.Stephanie Collins - 2013 - Australasian Journal of Philosophy 91 (2):231-248.
So Animal a Human ..., Or the Moral Relevance of Being an Omnivore.Kathryn Paxton George - 1990 - Journal of Agricultural and Environmental Ethics 3 (2):172-186.
The Morality Behind Sustainability.Jeffrey Burkhardt - 1989 - Journal of Agricultural and Environmental Ethics 2 (2):113-128.
Are Cultural Group Rights Against Individual Rights?Erol Kuyurtar - 2007 - The Proceedings of the Twenty-First World Congress of Philosophy 3:51-59.


Added to PP index

Total views
15 ( #701,238 of 2,520,752 )

Recent downloads (6 months)
1 ( #405,623 of 2,520,752 )

How can I increase my downloads?


My notes