Document Type


Date of Award

Spring 5-31-2002

Degree Name

Master of Science in Environmental Policy Studies - (M.S.)


Humanities and Social Sciences

First Advisor

Eric M. Katz

Second Advisor

David Rothenberg

Third Advisor

Andrew Light


This thesis will explore the ethical dimensions of global agriculture from the productionist paradigm to the land ethic in the context of the sustainable agriculture promoted in the fair trade, shade grown, and organic coffee movements. Much of the sustainable development debate in the environmental ethics literature has centered on justifications (from anthropocentric and nonanthropocentric worldviews) for preserving nature. Since agriculture is an artifact of human sedentary civilization, traditional nonanthropocentric arguments do not suffice because of the tendency to focus exclusively on natural systems. Building on the work of Katz's "Pragmatic ReConsideration" and Light's "methodological pragmatism," the role of anthropocentric and nonanthropo centric worldviews in the ethical justifications for policy is considered. After developing a pragmatic reconsideration of worldviews, it will be argued that a sustainable agriculture with regard to ecosystem preservation can be achieved by expanding the biotic community referenced in Leopold's Land Ethic to include agriculture or by accepting multiple overlapping arguments as does methodological pragmatism. Ecologists agree that biological corridors are essential to proper functioning and the carrying capacity of migratory species. From a policy perspective, sustainable agriculture means not only the preservation of natural systems, but also the integration of surrounding artifactual systems to support those natural systems.



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