Agriculture's Ethical Horizon

Agriculture's Ethical Horizon

2nd Edition - January 30, 2012

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  • Author: Robert Zimdahl
  • eBook ISBN: 9780123914781
  • Hardcover ISBN: 9780124160439

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The second edition of Agriculture's Ethical Horizon is a carefully considered application of philosophical concepts, such as utilitarianism and positivism, to the practice of agricultural science. Author Robert Zimdahl argues for an approach to agriculture guided by foundational values, and addresses the questions: What are the goals of agricultural and weed science? What should their goals be? How do and how should the practitioners of agriculture address complex ethical questions? This book engages students, researchers, and professionals across disciplines including horticulture, soil and plant science, entomology, and more, all without requiring a background in philosophy. It examines topics such as scientific truth and myth, moral confidence in agriculture, the relevance of ethics to sustainability, and biotechnology. New to this edition is a chapter examining the raising, housing and slaughter of animals for human food, and a chapter on alternative and organic agricultural systems.

Key Features

  • Easily understood by non-philosophers
  • Chapter sidebars highlight important concepts and can be used to engage students in further discussion
  • Companion website includes further teaching aids and a discussion board


Anyone engaged in agriculture including students, researchers, and professionals in environmental studies, horticulture, plant science, and soil science. Those involved in associated regional and county offices, farmers and ranchers, agricultural chemical companies, and all those employed by other phases of the agricultural industry

Table of Contents

  • Foreword First Edition

    Foreword Second Edition


    Acknowledgments First Edition

    Acknowledgments Second Edition

    1. The Horizon of Agricultural Ethics

    Scientific Truth and Myth

    2. The Conduct of Agricultural Science

    What Research Ought to Be Done?

    3. When Things Go Wrong—Balancing Technology’s Safety and Risk

    The Development of Herbicides

    Progress of Weed Science


    The Continuing Debate

    4. A Brief Introduction to Moral Philosophy and Ethical Theories

    Science and Emotion

    Universal Values

    Ethics in Agriculture

    Contemporary Normative Ethics

    Ethical Theories Relevant to Agriculture

    Ethical Egoism

    Social Contract Theory

    Virtue Ethics

    Deontological or Kantian Ethics


    Applying Ethics in Agriculture and Agricultural Science

    Multiple Strategies Utilitarianism

    5. Moral Confidence in Agriculture

    The Benefits and Costs of Modern Agriculture

    Goals for Agriculture

    Social Goals for Agriculture

    Environmental Goals for Agriculture

    Expanding Agriculture’s Moral Scope

    The Utilitarian Standard

    The Relevance of the Western Agricultural Model

    Bottom-line Thinking



    6. The Relevance of Ethics to Agriculture and Weed Science

    7. Agricultural Sustainability

    The Present Agricultural Situation: The Example of Weed Management

    The Moral Case for Sustainability

    What is Sustainability?

    Why must Sustainability be Achieved?

    A Concluding Comment About Sustainable Weed Science


    8. Biotechnology

    The Debate

    Technological Problems


    Arguments in Favor of Agricultural Biotechnology

    Arguments Opposed to Agricultural Biotechnology

    The Moral Arguments

    9. Alternative/Organic Agricultural Systems

    Characteristics of Alternative/Organic Systems

    The Farmers and Productivity

    Transition and Advantages

    Ethical Problems

    10. Animal Agriculture

    Western Thought and the Line

    A Person

    Arguments in Support of Animal Agriculture

    Arguments Against Animal Agriculture

    Animal Biotechnology

    A New Technology

    A Final Word

    11. A Glimpse Ahead

    Six Important Issues/Problems/Matters of Concern

    Dominant Scientific Myths

    Production and Ethics

    The Imperative of Responsibility

    Finding Partners

    Mission Statements (Summary—Tables 11.1 and 11.2)

    The Role of the University

    Sustainability as a Goal


Product details

  • No. of pages: 308
  • Language: English
  • Copyright: © Elsevier 2012
  • Published: January 30, 2012
  • Imprint: Elsevier
  • eBook ISBN: 9780123914781
  • Hardcover ISBN: 9780124160439

About the Author

Robert Zimdahl

Robert L. Zimdahl is a Professor of Weed Science at Colorado State University. He received his Ph.D. in Agronomy from Oregon State University. Among his many honors and awards, Dr. Zimdahl was elected a Fellow of the Weed Science Society of America in 1986 and currently serves as editor of that society’s journal, Weed Science. He has been a member of several international task forces and has authored a number of books and articles on the subject of weed science. He is the author of Fundamentals of Weed Science, and Six Chemicals that Changed Agriculture both from Elsevier.

Affiliations and Expertise

Professor of Weed Science, Colorado State University, CO, USA

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