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Book of Abstracts

11th IFOAM
Scientific Conference
11-15 August 1996
Copenhagen, Denmark

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Subject index
Athor index


Relations between view of nature and practices S27

Kaltoft, Pernille.

Institute of Technology and Social Sciences, Technical University of Denmark, DK-2800 Lyngby.

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The paper will present and discuss empirical results from my ph.d. study concerning environmental ethics as a concept of practice. The theoretical approach to the study of environmental ethics is not purely philosophical. It questions what guides professionals in action with nature (farmers, agronomists, engineers and the alike) when deciding which solution is preferable regarding sustainability.

The empirical work examines the explicit as well as the implicit expressed views of nature, ethical stands, learning processes, knowledge sources and identity with a number of Danish organic farmers. These findings are related to the actual manuring strategies, diversity in crops and products and ways of treating the herd at the same farms. The empirical study is methodologically based on qualitative methods inspired by phenomenology, ethnography and narrativity.

The outcome is four distinct groups of organic farmers, which does not differ much from other surveys, but are much more detailed as regards view of nature and the relation to action. The results will be presented as casestories. Two general conclusions can be drawn from the study: The first regards the process of conversion to organic farming. The concrete level of sustainability can not be ensured only by means of factual rules (quantitative rules). The conceptualizing by farmers of nature is an independent parameter. Underestimated as it is, this parameter is not addressed in the process of conversion. The second conclusion regards the expanding research in organic farming: The organic farming in practice represents a variety of views of nature. So does scientific work, but especially the natural scientifical and agro-technical sciences has no tradition for reflecting that kind of matters. If the scientific approaches do not try to make their stands explicit for discussion and disagreement it might mean that qualities embedded in the organic farming are not acknowledged, approved and developed.