Module 2

Throughout this module, we will introduce some basic terms and concepts within ethics and the applied branch of ethics known as environmental ethics. As we are examining the intersection of capitalism and environmentalism, we will also survey business ethics.


Warm-Up Exercise: Freddie & the Bunnies

To get you thinking about normative ethics, let's work on a moral scenario. Note that there are multiple solutions (depending upon how your frame ethics. The key take-away here is not the search for a singular or objective answer but a critical reflection on how well you have articulated your position AND you have supported your reasoning!


What are some of the competing perspectives as reflected in the moral scenario above?

How might businesses use these same perspectives?

What is your perspective?


Interaction: Big Ag

"Big Ag," short for "Big Agriculture," is a term often used to refer to large-scale industrial agriculture, which involves the production of crops and livestock on a massive scale. Big Ag typically relies on modern technologies, extensive use of machinery, advanced genetics, and various inputs to maximize agricultural output.

Key Characteristics of Big Ag:

The Impact of Big Ag:

Consider GMOs:

Discussion Prompts:
  • Given the facts above, is Big Ag and its leveraging of GMOs morally permissible? Pick one normative theory we have discussed and discuss the moral permissibility of engineering food.
  • Do the health risks reported from GMOs outweigh the human need? Which normative theory are you employing to make sense of the issue?
  • Which threat should be given priority: the threat to the environment as posed through current Big Ag practices or the threat to the human population as posed through current Big Ag practices?