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GM Crops, the Hubris Argument and the Nature of Agriculture
KTH, School of Architecture and the Built Environment (ABE), Philosophy and History of Technology, Philosophy. (Mistra Biotech)
2015 (English)In: Journal of Agricultural and Environmental Ethics, ISSN 1187-7863, E-ISSN 1573-322X, Vol. 28, no 1, 161-177 p.Article in journal (Refereed) Published
Abstract [en]

In this paper, I investigate the moral status of agricultural biotechnology and, more specifically, genetically modified (GM) crops by employing the hubris argument. The old notion of hubris, given to us by the ancient Greeks, provides a narrative from which we can understand ourselves and technology. Ronald Sandler offers us an understanding of hubris he claims gives us a prima facie reason and a presumption against the use of GM crops. I argue that Sandler's hubris argument fails for several reasons: (1) Sander and many others fail to have a proper understanding of agriculture as an inherently technological practice which is radically different from 'nature'; (2) the notions of control and manipulation which are central to the concept of hubris are difficult to understand and use in the context of agriculture; (3) trying to establish a prima facie reason against GM crops runs into serious difficulty since many GM crops are profoundly different from each other; and (4) even if we accept Sandler's argument of hubris, it actually plays no role in the reasoning and evaluation of the moral status of different GM crops.

Place, publisher, year, edition, pages
Springer Netherlands, 2015. Vol. 28, no 1, 161-177 p.
Keyword [en]
Virtue ethics, Hubris, Humility, Ronald Sandler, GM crops, Biotechnology, Agriculture
National Category
Ethics
Research subject
Philosophy
Identifiers
URN: urn:nbn:se:kth:diva-162135DOI: 10.1007/s10806-014-9526-7ISI: 000347889400010Scopus ID: 2-s2.0-84922076287OAI: oai:DiVA.org:kth-162135DiVA: diva2:797157
Projects
Mistra Biotech
Funder
Mistra - The Swedish Foundation for Strategic Environmental Research
Note

QC 20150324

Available from: 2015-03-23 Created: 2015-03-23 Last updated: 2017-12-04Bibliographically approved
In thesis
1. Ethical aspects of crop biotechnology in agriculture
Open this publication in new window or tab >>Ethical aspects of crop biotechnology in agriculture
2015 (English)Licentiate thesis, comprehensive summary (Other academic)
Abstract [en]

This thesis analyses a few selected aspects of crop biotechnology in agriculture. The thesis contains two essays; the first addresses the topic of how ethical tools can help to, especially in democratic societies, improve ethical judgments on modern biotechnologies used in agriculture and food production. The second essay explores GM crops and the question of whether engaging and promoting agriculture biotechnology would be an expression of hubris. Essay I discusses ethical tools and more specifically what makes a tool a good one. It is argued that some of the previous attempts of evaluating ethical tools are unfruitful. Myself and Per Sandin propose that ethical tools be divided into three categories with regard to their different aim(s). We suggest that the quality of an ethical tool is decided by its purposiveness, i.e. how well the tool achieves its assigned purpose(s). Essay II discusses the concept of hubris with regard to agricultural biotechnology. Several authors have claimed that supporting agricultural biotechnology is an expression of hubris. Ronald Sandler has given the argument its most structured account of yet. I argue that Sandler fails to establish a presumption against the use of GM crops and that the concept of hubris should play no role in evaluating GM crops and agricultural biotechnology.

Place, publisher, year, edition, pages
Stockholm: KTH Royal Institute of Technology, 2015. 31 p.
Series
Theses in philosophy from the Royal Institute of Technology, ISSN 1650-8831
National Category
Ethics
Research subject
Philosophy
Identifiers
urn:nbn:se:kth:diva-162187 (URN)978-91-7595-504-9 (ISBN)
Presentation
2015-04-13, Seminar Room, Brinellvägen 32, Stockholm, 13:00 (English)
Opponent
Supervisors
Projects
Mistra Biotech
Funder
Mistra - The Swedish Foundation for Strategic Environmental Research
Note

QC 20150330

Available from: 2015-03-30 Created: 2015-03-23 Last updated: 2015-03-30Bibliographically approved

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