Dilemmas in sustainable agriculture

M. Korthals

    Research output: Contribution to journalArticleAcademicpeer-review

    20 Citations (Scopus)


    In this article, I argue that agriculture and food production processes are subject to what I refer to as 'dilemmatic situations'. These dilemmatic situations are rather new, and require a new orientation in ethics to account for them. Ethics has to give up long-cherished ideals, such as: (a) the identification of ethics with a set of obligations that require people to do certain actions; (b) the idea that there is only one good solution to an ethical problem; (c) the idea that compromises are only second best solutions; and finally (d) the dogma that solutions to ethical problems should exclude considerations of technology. Instead, I maintain that ethics must be more flexible. In the case of dilemmas facing agriculture, this means that ethics must respect consumer decisions in a substantial sense: indeed, we must look for ways to enhance the influence of consumers on the food chain and to help consumers to make up their minds with respect to new developments. Ethics must also reorient itself toward technology as a producer of values, and embrace pluralism in agriculture and food. Finally, ethics must look for compromises in such cases as the dilemmatic situation of agricultural sustainability vs. animal well being.
    Original languageEnglish
    Pages (from-to)813-820
    JournalInternational Journal of Food Science and Technology
    Publication statusPublished - 2001

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