Utilitarian-Based Land Ethic

Read this background content before you compare and contrast utilitarian versus biocentric views.

Utilitarianism was most prominently defended by British philosophers Jeremy Bentham and John Stuart Mill. Though there are many varieties of utilitarianism, generally it is the view that a morally right action is an action that produces the maximum good for people. Utilitarianism has often been used when deciding how to use land and it is closely connected with an economic-based ethic. For example, it forms the foundation for industrial farming; an increase in yield, which would increase the number of people able to receive goods from farmed land, is judged from this view to be a good action or approach. In fact, a common argument in favor of industrial agriculture is that it is a good practice because it increases the benefits for humans; benefits such as food abundance and a drop in food prices. However, a utilitarian-based land ethic is different from a purely economic one as it could be used to justify the limiting of a person's rights to make profit. For example, in the case of the farmer planting crops on a slope, if the runoff of soil into the community creek led to the damage of several neighbor's properties, then the good of the individual farmer would be overridden by the damage caused to his neighbors. Thus, while a utilitarian-based land ethic can be used to support economic activity, it can also be used to challenge this activity.

Source: Wikipedia, https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Land_ethic
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Last modified: Monday, January 11, 2021, 6:47 PM