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Agricultural Ethics: A Comparative Perspective

Agricultural Ethics: A Comparative Perspective

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Agricultural Ethics: A Comparative Perspective

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  1. Agricultural Ethics: A Comparative Perspective Kai-Yuan Cheng (鄭凱元) Institute of Philosophy of Mind and Cognition National Yang-Ming University (陽明大學) 2013.02.13

  2. Outline • I. Strength and Possible Weakness in Paul Thompson’s Agrarian Version of Environmental Ethics • II. Zhuangzi’s Philosophy: The Nature of Man and Nature • III. Implementation of Thompsonian Agrarianism in Taiwan (or beyond) through the Supplementation of Zhuangzi’s Philosophy

  3. Environmental Philosophy • “Environmental philosophy articulates and defends basic principles for understanding and addressing environmental issues. An environmental philosophy is an explicit statement of norms, values, and working principles intended to guide our thinking and practice with respect to the preservation, utilization, and appreciation of nature and for the conservation of natural resources, as well as the addressing of specific environmental problems such as pollution, biodiversity loss, and climate change.” (Thompson, 2010, p. 11-12)

  4. Two Dogmas of Environmental Philosophy • The dogma of pristine nature: unimproved nature has the highest value • An eco-centric view • The dogma of environmental impact: environmental ethics and policy should focus on anticipated outcomes or impacts of human actions on environment • An anthropocentric view

  5. Drawback of the Dogma of Pristine Nature: Unrealistic • A significant percentage of land on planet Earth is used for plant and animal production. • The landmass used for agriculture: • U.S.A.: 50% of; U.K.: 40%; Taiwan: 23%; Chia-Yi: 39%; Yun-Lin: 63%; Chuan-Hua: 59%; Taipei: 12% (Website of Directorate-General of Budge, Accounting and Statistics of Executive Yuan 行政院主計總處網站) Impacts are inevitable. The real issue is how to handle those impacts and maintain environmental sustainability

  6. Drawback of the Dogma of Environmental Impact: Fact-Value Dichotomy • “…the exclusive focus on outcomes or impacts has some disturbing implications…[the dogma] makes it easy to think of values as being wholly independent from facts.” (Thompson, 2010, p. 25). • It is one thing for scientists to find out the outcome of certain ecosystem processes, and it is another thing for economists and philosophers to evaluate the appropriateness and inappropriateness of those processes. Agriculture is a form of human activity performed for the purpose of food production. It seems to have some intrinsic values. The challenge is how to articulate the intuitive and compelling impression that agricultural facts are inherently fused with value that go beyond considerations of impacts, outcomes and trade-offs.

  7. Disaster of the Two Dogmas Combined • “…combining the dogma of environmental impact with the dogma of pristine nature creates a disastrous environmental ethics for cultivated ecosystems (that is, for agriculture). Agriculture by its very nature and intention involves an impact on nature. However ethical imperatives for land use are expressed, the result of any call to limit the environmental impact from agriculture means the less agriculture, the better. However, if agriculture is to be minimized on a per-acre basis, it must be practiced as intensively as possible on those acres. This reasoning categorically supports industrialized agriculture over organic or low-input alternatives…” (Thompson, 2010, p. 25-26) We need to find an alternative conceptual framework to come up with a workable ethic of sustainability for both our environment and agriculture.

  8. Thompson’s Agrarianism • Main Thesis: i) Agriculture is key to sustainability that lies at the core of environmental ethics. ii) Agricultural form of life has an internal dynamics to generate individual moral characters and social goodness which not only have intrinsic values of their own but also lead to people’s affectionate relationship with nature which they inhabit in and interact with on a daily basis.

  9. Thompson’s Agrarianism “My contention in this book is that farms, farming communities, and the agricultures that support entire civilizations are excellent models for the complex kinds of ecosocial hybrid systems that need to be sustained if our society is to achieve sustainability at all” (Thompson, 2010, p. 11) “An agrarian is more concerned with the way a local food system embeds people in practices whereby their commerce with nature and with one another creates an enduring sense of place…The agrarian hope is that these kinds of localized transactions will gradually develop into an affection for the people and the places where one lives, and that through the constant repetition of these rhythms, this affection, this sympathy, will mature into full-fledged habits of character—virtues if you will. (Thompson, 2010, p. 39)

  10. Thompsonian Agrarianiam Inspired by Ancient Greek Philosophers • “…philosophers such as Socrates and Plato must be read in light of certain agrarian ideals that were the foundations of life throughout Greeks city-states and at Athens in particular…the Greek worldview incorporates both nature and society into an enveloping environment that aids or inhibits action in a very selective way. Human goodness involves the realization of potential that is latent in human character, but the potential for this realization is not wholly under any individual person’s control. One develops virtues and vices as a result of how one’s environment rewards or penalizes patterns of conduct in a systematic way. There is, therefore, no good person without a good environment. And for the Greeks, a good environment was not a pristine environment but a farm environment” (Thompson, 2010, p. 26-27; Hanson, 1995)

  11. Thompsonian Agrarianiam Inspired by Ancient Greek Philosophers • “This type of thought places individuals within concentric webs: family, community, and nature. As described in Aristotle’s Politics, those webs work as interacting hierarchies to establish feedback loops ensuring that individuals internalize the consequences of their actions into habits of personal character. One does not stand back from a potential impact and wonder how to value it; rather, one sees the whole organic situation as creating more specific value commitments, which are understood as virtues that integrate and preserve the whole.” (Thompson, 2010, p. 27)

  12. Thompsonian Agrarianiam Inspired by Ancient Greek Poets • “The Greek poet Hensiod (circa 700 BCE) saw farming as having a religious purpose, but the religious significance of farming for Hesiod was rather different than it might be for contemporary Christians, Muslims, or Jews. His Zeus was one of several immanent gods, fully present in Hesiod’s daily life. The depiction of Zeus in Hesiod’s poem Works and Days is one of a god thoroughly integrated into nature and the source of all natural unity. The seasons, soil, and water are themselves divinities begotten by Zeus that establish a place for human beings. A key message in Hesiod’s poetry is that only farmers dependent on seasons, soil, and water can hope to attain piety or show proper respect to these divinities. Farming is the way human beings justly occupy a place in the divine (that is, natural) order…Agriculture is thus the singular practice by which humanity makes its way in the world in a pious and morally just manner.” (Thompson, 2010, p. 36-37)

  13. Possible Inadequacies of Thompson’s Agrarianism (1) • i) Certain aspects of Greek philosophy that are favorable to his agrarian position are highlighted, but some salient aspects of Greek philosophy that may have some internal tensions with this agrarian position are not addressed, such as: a) The dualistic view of human nature: a person is composed of two distinct kinds of entity: body and soul b) The atomistic view of nature: the universe is particulate, reductive, material, inert, quantitative, and mechanical • Human beings are both essentially and ethically segregated from nature in this Greek worldview (Callicott, 1987, p. 118). • Human beings seek not unity with nature but conquest in this Greek worldview (McHarg, 1969)

  14. Possible Inadequacies of Thompson’s Agrarianism (2) • How are we to make sense of Hesiod’s idea that Zeus—a sacred being—is thoroughly integrated into nature? Is this idea a merely metaphorical or poetic expression, or something to be taken seriously—that it has some real ontological import? • If the former were the case, we would have difficulty taking a sacred worldview seriously. If the latter were the case, there would seem to be a direct conflict between a sacred view of nature expressed by Hesiod and a mechanistic and atomistic view of nature popular among ancient Greek philosophers.

  15. The Judeo-Christian View of Man and Nature: Congruent with Greek Philosophy but Leads to Environmental Crisis • 1. God—the locus of the holy or sacred—transcends nature. • 2. Nature I a profane artifact of a divine, craftsman-like creator. The essence of the natural world is informed matter: God divided and ordered an inert, plastic material. • 3. Man exclusively is created in the image of God and thus is segregated, essentially, from the rest of nature. • 4. Man is given dominion by God over nature. • 5. God commands man to subdue nature and multiply himself. • 6. The whole metaphysical structure of the Judeo-Christian world view is political and hierarchical: God over Man, Man over Nature—which results in a moral pecking order or power structure. • 7. The image-of-God in Man is the ground of man’s intrinsic value. Since nonhuman natural entities lack the divine image, they are morally disenfranchised. They have, at best, instrumental value. • 8. This notion is compounded in the latter Judeo-Christian tradition by Aristotelian-Thomistic teleology—rational life is the telos of nature and hence all the rest of nature exists as a means—a support system—for rational men. • (Callicott, 1987; Lynn White, Science 1967)

  16. Fundamental Questions in Environmental Ethics • 1) What is the nature of nature? • 2) What is the nature of man? • 3) How should man relate to nature? (Ip, 1983; Callicott, 1987) Suitably answering these questions remains critical for developing a substantial version of Thompsonian agrarianism

  17. Zhuangzi’s Philosophy: The Nature of Man and Nature Understanding the nature of nature is inseparable from understanding the nature of man. The nature of man can be viewed from three angles: a) Body b) Person (psychological relation R: Parfit) c) Self Details of my reading Zhuangzi on the above issues: Cheng (forthcoming): “Self and the Dream of the Butterfly in the Zhuangzi”, Philosophy East and West --- (draft): “Personal Identity and Survival in the Zhuangzi”

  18. Body: Transformation of ki (氣) in the universe • But I looked back to her beginning and the time before she was born. Not only the time before she was born, but the time before she had a body. Not only the time before she had a body, but the time before she had a ki. In the midst of the jumble of wonder and mystery a change took place and she had a ki. Another change and she had a body. Another change and she was born. Now there’s been another change and she’s dead. It’s just like the progression of the four seasons, spring, summer, fall, and winter. Now she’s going to lie down peacefully in a vast room. (tr. Watson, 1968) • 莊子曰:「不然。是其始死也,我獨何能旡概然!察其始而本旡生,非徒旡生也,而本旡形﹔非徙旡形也,而本旡氣。雜乎芒芴之間,變而有氣,氣變而有形,形變而有生。今又變而之死。是相與為春秋冬夏四時行也。人且偃然寢於巨室,而我噭噭然隨而哭之,自以為不通乎命,故止也。」(莊子 至樂)

  19. Self: What Is the Nature of a True Master • “Joy, anger, grief, delight, worry, regret, fickleness, inflexibility, modesty, willfulness, candor, insolence—music from empty holes, mushrooms springing up in dampness, day and night replacing each other before us, and no one knows where they sprout from. Let it be! Let it be! It is enough that morning and evening we have them, and they are the means by which we live. Without them we would not exist; without us they would have nothing to take hold of. This comes close to the matter. But I do not know what makes them the way they are. It would seem as though they have some True Master, and yet I find no trace of him. He can act—that is certain. Yet I cannot see his form. He has identity but no form.” (tr. Watson, 1968) • 喜怒哀樂,慮嘆愛慹,姚佚啟態;樂出虛,蒸成菌。日夜相代乎前,而莫知其所萌。已乎,已乎!旦暮得此,其所由以生乎!非彼旡我,非我旡所取。是亦近矣,而不知其所為使。若有真宰,而特不得其眹。可行己信,而不見其形,有情而旡形。百骸、九竅、六藏,賅而存焉,吾誰與為親?汝皆說之乎?其有私焉?如是皆有為臣妾乎?其臣妾不足以相治乎?其遞相為君臣乎?其有真君存焉?如求得其情與不得,無益損乎其真。 (莊子 齊物論)

  20. Self: Does the Thing Called “I” Exist? • “What’s more, we go around telling each other, I do this, I do that—but how do we know that this ‘I’ we talk about has any ‘I’ to it?” (tr. Watson, 1968) • 「且也相與吾之耳矣,庸詎知吾所謂吾之乎?」(大宗師)

  21. Self Is an Illusion: the Dream of the Butterfly • 昔者莊周夢為胡蝶,栩栩然胡蝶也。自喻適志與!不知周也。俄然覺,則蘧蘧然周也。不知周之夢為胡蝶與?胡蝶之夢為周與?周與胡蝶,則必有分矣。此之謂物化。 • Once Zhuang Zhou dreamt he was a butterfly, a butterfly flittering and fluttering around, happy with himself and doing as he pleased. He didn't know he was Zhuang Zhou. Suddenly he woke up and there he was, solid and unmistakable Zhuang Zhou. But he didn't know if he was Zhuang Zhou who had dreamt he was a butterfly, or a butterfly dreaming he was Zhuang Zhou. Between Zhuang Zhou and a butterfly there must be some distinction! This is called the Transformation of Things. (tr. Watson, 1968)

  22. Person: What Is It to Identify Oneself as a Cow/Horse? • Zhuangzi describes an enlightened person T’ai as “sometimes thinking of himself as a horse and sometimes as a cow” (tr. Watson, 1968) • 泰氏,其臥徐徐,其覺于于;一以己為馬,一以己為牛;其知情信,其德甚真,而未始人於非人。(應帝王)

  23. Mark Johnston’s Theory of Personal Identity (2010) • There is no objectively right or wrong answer to the question about personal identity. • Personal identity is judgment-dependent: whether I will be the same person as a previous one is determined by my dispositions to make relevant judgments about my identity. • We can cultivate our own identity-determining dispositions.

  24. Zhuangzi’s View of an Ideal Person Illuminated by Johnston’s Theory • Three communities: • A) Human Being • B) Teletransporters • C) T’ai For Parfit, a person survives teletransportation (the relation R continues to exist). For Zhuangzi, a person like T’ai survives as a cow or a horse continues to exist.

  25. Zhuagnzi’s View of an Ideal Person • 指窮於為薪,火傳也,不知其盡也。(養生主) • “Though the grease burns out of the torch, the fire passes on, and no one knows where it ends. ” • 天地與我並生,而萬物與我為一。 天地一指也,萬物一馬也。 (齊物論) An ideal person identifies her future existence as continued by heaven and earth. Such a person can then survive as heaven and earth, or, nature, survives.

  26. Two Merits of Zhuangzi’s View of Man and Nature When Implementing Thompsonian Agrarianism • 1) Man is not a dualistic entity, but part of earth and heaven in a constantly transformational process. • 2) If there is something sacred and valuable about me, there is something sacred and valuable about nature, given the uniformity and continuity of the two. Zhuangzi’s ontological view of man and nature appears to offer a suitable ground on which Thompson’s agrarian version of environmental ethics may be built and developed.

  27. Zhuangzi’s View of the Role of Instrument in Man-Nature Interaction • “Tzu-kung traveled south to Ch'u, and on his way back through Chin, as he passed along the south bank of the Han, he saw an old man preparing his fields for planting. He had hollowed out an opening by which he entered the well and from which he emerged, lugging a pitcher, which he carried out to water the fields. Grunting and puffing, he used up a great deal of energy and produced very little result. "There is a machine for this sort of thing," said Tzu-kung. "In one day it can water a hundred fields, demanding very little effort .and producing excellent results. Wouldn't you like one?” The gardener raised his head and looked at Tzu-kung. "How does it work?""It's a contraption made by shaping a piece of wood. The back end is heavy and the front end light and it raises the water as though it were pouring it out, so fast that it seems to boil right over! It's called a well sweep.“ The gardener flushed with anger and then said with a laugh, "I've heard my teacher say, where there are machines, there are bound to be machine worries; where there are machine worries, there are bound to be machine hearts. With a machine heart in your breast, you've spoiled what was pure and simple; and without the pure and simple, the life of the spirit knows no rest. Where the life of the spirit knows no rest, the Way will cease to buoy you up. It's not that I don't know about your machine - I would be ashamed to use it!“ (tr. Watson, 1968)

  28. Original Text • 子貢南遊於楚,反於晉,過漢陰,見一丈人方將為圃畦,鑿隧而入井,抱甕而出灌,搰搰然用力甚多而見功寡。子貢曰:「有械於此,一日浸百畦,用力甚寡而見功多,夫子不欲乎?」為圃者卬而視之曰:「奈何?」曰:「鑿木為機,後重前輕,挈水若抽,數如泆湯,其名為槔。」為圃者忿然作色而笑曰:「吾聞之吾師,有機械者必有機事,有機事者必有機心。機心存於胸中則純白不備,純白不備則神生不定,神生不定者,道之所不載也。吾非不知,羞而不為也。」子貢瞞然 ,俯而不對。有閒,為圃者曰:「子奚為者邪?」曰:「孔丘之徒也。」為圃者曰:「子非夫博學以擬聖,於于以蓋眾,獨弦哀歌以賣名聲於天下者乎?汝方將忘汝神氣,墮汝形骸,而庶幾乎!而身之不能治,而何暇治天下乎!子往矣,旡乏吾事。」子貢卑陬失色,頊頊然不自得,行三十里而後愈。其弟子曰:「向之人何為者邪?夫子何故見之變容失色,終日不自反邪?」曰:「始吾以為天下一人耳,不知復有夫人也。吾聞之夫子,事求可,功求成,用力少,見功多者,聖人之道。今徒不然。執道者德全,德全者形全,形全者神全。神全者,聖人之道也。托生與民並行而不知其所之,汒乎淳備哉!功利機巧必忘夫人之心。若夫人者,非其志不之,非其心不為。雖以天下譽之,得其所謂,謷然不顧﹔以天下非之,失其所謂,儻然不受。天下之非譽,旡益損焉,是謂全德之人哉!我之謂風波之民。」反於魯,以告孔子。孔子曰:「彼假修渾沌氏之術者也。識其一,不知其二﹔治其內,而不治其外。夫明白入素,旡為復朴,體性抱神,以遊世俗之間者,汝將固驚邪?且渾沌之術,予與汝何足以識之哉!」(莊子 天地)

  29. An Extra Merit of Zhuangzi’s Philosophy • Considerations of how man should use instruments in the exploitation of natural resources may help bringing about some important constraints on the implementation of Thompsonian Agrarianism.

  30. Thank you for your attention!