Sustainable agriculture and free market economics: Finding common ground in Adam Smith
There are two competing approaches to sustainability in agriculture. One stresses a strict economic approach in which market forces should guide the activities of agricultural producers. The other advocates the need to balance economic with environmental and social objectives, even to the point of reducing profitability. The writings of the eighteenth century moral philosopher Adam Smith could bridge the debate. Smith certainly promoted profit-seeking, private property, and free market exchange consistent with the strict economic perspective. However, his writings are also consistent with many aspects of sustainable agriculture. For example, Smith argued that people ought to exercise restraint in their pursuit of self-interest, and he believed in balancing economic with environmental and social considerations. If both sides of the debate more fully regard the work of Adam Smith, then proponents of the strict economic perspective might be more appreciative of the concerns raised within the sustainable agriculture community, while advocates of sustainability might be more effective in achieving the objective of a sustainable agriculture. Copyright Springer Science+Business Media, Inc. 2006
Volume (Year): 23 (2006)
Issue (Month): 4 (December)
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