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Toward a Systemic Ethic: In search of an Ethical Basis for Sustainability and Precaution\ud

By Hugo Fjelsted Alrøe and Erik Steen Kristensen


Environmental issues and questions of sustainability and precaution have come into focus in agriculture, and in society in general, in recent decades. There are, however, many different meanings of sustainability and precaution, and there is no evident connection between these new normative concepts and the traditional moral theories. This paper seeks an ethical basis for sustainability and precaution – a common framework that can serve as a means of resolving the conceptual ambiguities of the new normative concepts and as a means of resolving conflicts between new and traditional moral concepts and theories. The method employed is to analyse the past and possible future extension of ethics and establish an inclusive framework of ethical extension. The extension of ethics is driven by the increased awareness of several, not unrelated aspects, such as the similarities between man and other living beings and their common ecological relations, the increasing human influence on natural systems and processes, and the limits of human knowledge and control. In accordance, the analysis is characterised by a systemic approach, and the established framework forms the basis for what we call a systemic ethic

Topics: Indicators and other value-laden measures, Values, standards and certification
Publisher: Environmental Philosophy, Inc., University of North Texas
Year: 2003
OAI identifier:
Provided by: Organic Eprints

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