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Applied Ethics in Agriculture Sociology/Economics 362 Paul Lasley and Arne Hallam Fall, 2003.

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Presentation on theme: "Applied Ethics in Agriculture Sociology/Economics 362 Paul Lasley and Arne Hallam Fall, 2003."— Presentation transcript:

1 Applied Ethics in Agriculture Sociology/Economics 362 Paul Lasley and Arne Hallam Fall, 2003

2 “Character is not the same thing as reputation. Character is what you are. Reputation is what people say you are.”Josephson, 2002

3 Why we got involved in the study of ethics in agriculture About 10 years ago Phil Baumel and Paul Lasley began a series of studies that focused on ethics within farm cooperatives Grant from Farmers Cooperative Service Findings from the Iowa Farm and Rural Life Poll Teaching a new course, Sociology/ Economics 362X, first offered fall, 2002

4 What do you suppose coop managers and board members told us about ethics in agriculture?

5 Cooperative Managers and Board Members Identified Several Areas of Ethical Concern Shirking responsibilities Business dealings with friends, relatives, or competitors Sales incentives Pricing policies Illegal Practices

6 Why have ethical standards declined?

7 Reasons given for unethical behavior Extreme pressure to show a profit No board oversight on management Too much competition that it is unhealthy Business is too complex for a lay board Fewer farmers, greater business, more incentive to retain them as members Young farmers lack appreciation of cooperatives Tough economic times on the farm contributed to erosion in ethical standards.

8 What do you think Iowa farmers told us? Do you suppose they agree that ethics have declined among farmers? Can you provide examples?

9 What Iowa Farmers Told Us (2002 Farm Poll, n=1942) At one time a person’s word was as good as a signed contract; now you must get it in writing. 93% somewhat or strongly agreed In general, ethical standards in society have declined. 87% agreed

10 What farmers told us I used to take a persons’ word as measure of his/her honor, but now-a-days you can’t always simply accept what a person tells you. 85% agreed. One reason ethical standards have declined is that people have lost respect for authority. 70% agreed Often people admit they are not being ethical in paying the full amount of their taxes. 49% agreed.

11 What farmers told us Even among friends and neighbors, I am concerned that they no longer feel obliged to honor their word. 37% agreed Farmer’s ethical standards have declined. 57% agreed

12 The widespread decline Where are ethical lapses most recognized?

13 How have ethics changed? % Decline in past 10 years Clergy 24% Neighbors31 Local Merchants36 Local Agribusiness 37 Lenders41 Farmers45 Youth and young adults68 Local elected officials70 Elected state officials72

14 The Six Pillars of Character (Source: Josephson, Making Ethical Decisions) Trustworthiness Honesty Truthfulness Sincerity Candor Honesty in conduct Integrity Relability

15 The Six Pillars of Character (Source: Josephson, Making Ethical Decisions) Respect Civility, courtesy, and decency Dignity and autonomy Tolerance and acceptance Responsibility Accountability Pursuit of Excellence Self Restraint

16 The Six Pillars of Character (Source: Josephson, Making Ethical Decisions) Fairness Process Impartiality Equity Caring Citizenship

17 Some guides to determine if an action is ethical 1. The Golden Rule, “you act in a way that you would expect others to act toward you” 2. The Professional Ethic, “You take only those actions that would be viewed as proper by an objective panel of your professional peers”

18 3. Kant’s Categorical Imperative, “Ask yourself, “What if everyone behaved this way?” 4. Child on Your Shoulder, “Would you proudly make the same decision if your young child were witnessing your choice?” 5. TV Test, Could you explain and justify your actions to general television audience?” 6. The Des Moines Register Test, “Would you like your friends and neighbors to read about this?”

19 Four simple questions 1. Could you or someone else suffer physical harm? 2. Could you or someone else suffer emotional pain? 3. Could the decision hurt your reputation, undermine your credibility, or damage important relationships? 4. Could the decision impede the achievement of any important goal?

20 Seven Steps to Better Decisions 1. Stop and think 2. Clarify goals 3. Determine Facts 4. Develop options 5. Consider consequences 6. Choose 7. Monitor and modify

21 What happens when there is not adherence to a code of ethics? People begin to “cut corners” Most unethical and illegal activities start small Rationale or justifications often include, everyone else is doing it Erosion in ethics brings about greater regulation because trust has been violated Rules, regulations and laws reflect the formalization of ethics

22 Erosion in Ethics=Distrustful Culture Where people no longer trust each other Where extreme individualism is primary Where people no longer know each other With diminished respect, trust and cooperation, there are calls for regulations to monitor or regulate behaviors/actions

23 Symptoms of Distrust in Agriculture Legal representation Formalized contracts Fear of Liability—liability insurance Less personal contact—fear of strangers Formal communication Suspiciousness

24 Need to Emphasize Ethics in Farming What would a professional code of ethics in farming look like? Who should take the lead in drafting such a document, and how it could be used?

25 The Need for a Code of Ethics in Farming Evidence is there has been an erosion in ethics The erosion in ethics has contributed to loss of trust, and consumer confidence, and calls for more regulations. A code of ethics might restore confidence and farming could be viewed a leader in pursuing higher ethical standard.

26 THE CHALLENGE OF THIS COURSE The challenge is how can Iowa farmers begin to develop a code of ethics that would define professional farmers. As future leaders in agriculture, we hope this course will contribute to your ability to make ethical decisions.

27 Let’s get started

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