, Volume 21, Issue 2, pp 183-198
Date: 24 Oct 2007

The Agricultural Ethics of Biofuels: A First Look

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A noticeable push toward using agricultural crops for ethanol production and for undertaking research to expand the range of possible biofuels began to dominate discussions of agricultural science and policy in the United States around 2005. This paper proposes two complementary philosophical approaches to examining the philosophical questions that should be posed in connection with this turn of events. One stresses a critique of underlying epistemological commitments in the scientific models being developed to determine the feasibility of various biofuels proposals. The second begins with a broader set of questions about the philosophical goals of agriculture, then queries the place that a turn to biofuels might have within the philosophy of agriculture. Both are portrayed as viable and important. The paper itself is a preliminary stage-setting reflection on the need for these two types of philosophical inquiry.