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Ethical aspects of crop biotechnology in agriculture
KTH, School of Architecture and the Built Environment (ABE), Philosophy and History of Technology, Philosophy. (Mistra Biotech)
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: urn:nbn:se:kth:diva-162187ISBN: 978-91-7595-504-9 (print)OAI: oai:DiVA.org:kth-162187DiVA: diva2:797407
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
List of papers
1. Evaluating ethical tools
Open this publication in new window or tab >>Evaluating ethical tools
2015 (English)In: Metaphilosophy, ISSN 0026-1068, E-ISSN 1467-9973, Vol. 46, no 2, 263-279 p.Article in journal (Refereed) Published
Abstract [en]

This article reviews suggestions for how ethical tools are to be evaluated and argues that the concept of ethical soundness as presented by Kaiser etal. (2007) is unhelpful. Instead, it suggests that the quality of an ethical tool is determined by how well it achieves its assigned purpose(s). Those are different for different tools, and the article suggests a categorization of such tools into three groups. For all ethical tools, it identifies comprehensiveness and user-friendliness as crucial. For tools that have reaching a decision in a democratic context as a main purpose, it identifies transparency, guiding users toward a decision and justification of the decision-supporting mechanism. For tools that aim to engage the public, it identifies procedural fairness as essential. It also notes that the scope of use for ethical tools is limited to the same moral community, and that this feature is frequently overlooked.

Keyword
applied ethics, consensus conference, ethical matrix, ethical soundness, ethical tools
National Category
Ethics
Research subject
Philosophy
Identifiers
urn:nbn:se:kth:diva-162137 (URN)10.1111/meta.12130 (DOI)000352634300006 ()2-s2.0-84927134161 (Scopus ID)
Projects
Mistra Biotech
Funder
Mistra - The Swedish Foundation for Strategic Environmental Research
Note

QC 20150508. Updated from accepted to published.

Available from: 2015-03-23 Created: 2015-03-23 Last updated: 2017-12-04Bibliographically approved
2. GM Crops, the Hubris Argument and the Nature of Agriculture
Open this publication in new window or tab >>GM Crops, the Hubris Argument and the Nature of Agriculture
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
Keyword
Virtue ethics, Hubris, Humility, Ronald Sandler, GM crops, Biotechnology, Agriculture
National Category
Ethics
Research subject
Philosophy
Identifiers
urn:nbn:se:kth:diva-162135 (URN)10.1007/s10806-014-9526-7 (DOI)000347889400010 ()2-s2.0-84922076287 (Scopus ID)
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

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