The Spirit of the Soil: Agriculture and Environmental Ethics
The Spirit of the Soil examines environmental problems in industrial agriculture and challenges environmentalists to think more deeply about the ethical dimensions of agriculture's impact on the environment. Professor Thompson considers environmental problems in industrial agriculture, such as the use of chemical pesticides and biotechnology, from an ethical perspective. He compares four 'world views' - productionism, stewardship, economics, and holism - which frame these issues and the potential response to them according to different philosophical priorities. All four are found to have their inadequacies.
Thompson concludes his analysis with an open-ended and necessarily incomplete formulation of sustainability as the key goal for recapturing the spirit of the soil. He provides discussion of works by Baird Callicott, Wendell Berry, Wes Jackson, and Alan Savory, and reviews the potential of conventional environmental ethics and resource economics.
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