Agricultural ethics: then and now

Agriculture and Human Values 32 (1):77-85 (2015)
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This paper was written to commemorate the 20th anniversary of the University of Nottingham’s Easter School on “Issues in Agricultural Bioethics,” organized by Ben Mepham in 1993. At that time, agricultural ethics was being envisioned as an interdisciplinary sub-discipline comparable to that of medical ethics. Agricultural ethicists would co-operate with other agricultural faculty to produce careful articulation, analysis and critique of norms and values being implicitly assumed by agricultural researchers, practitioners and policy makers. Roughly two factors have conspired to substantially limit the realization of that vision in the intervening 20 years. First, the institutional environment within agricultural universities was far less conducive to such an activity than medical schools. Second, while the rise of a food-oriented social movement might have provided new opportunities for food ethics, the social movement orientation has actually constrained the kind of philosophical work typically undertaken by bioethicists. The paper ends with a brief note calling for a renewal of the original vision.



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Paul B. Thompson
Michigan State University

Citations of this work

The Emergence of Food Ethics.Paul B. Thompson - 2016 - Food Ethics 1 (1):61-74.
The doctors of agrifood studies.Douglas H. Constance - 2023 - Agriculture and Human Values 40 (1):31-43.

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Famine, affluence, and morality.Peter Singer - 1972 - Philosophy and Public Affairs 1 (3):229-243.
The political theory of possessive individualism: Hobbes to Locke.Crawford Brough Macpherson - 1962 - Oxford,: Clarendon Press. Edited by Frank Cunningham.

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