Sunday, December 19, 2010


Last Tuesday the IBA representative came and dropped off a calendar. a few yeqars ago IBA changed from calendars which had "old" farm pictures to recent "farm" pictures. Many of the recent photos look more like a second home than a farm. However, to me, the real difference is that the old pictures always were filled with people.

On October 3, 2010 Philippa Foot died. She created what is known a s the "Trolley Problem":

In the original problem, which Foot developed, a runaway trolley in heading toward four workers on the track. If you through a switch, the four will be saved but one man working on the spur will die. Do you throw the switch? Most would.

A variation was developed by Judith Thompson. There is no switch but, the trolley can be stopped by throwing a heavy object off the bridge from where the observer is standing. The only heavy object is a fat man - big enough to stop the trolley - he would be killed. Most people would not throw the fat man. The numbers are the same, one death saves several lives.

These are ethical problems. Change the problem to economics, dairy economics, and everything about ethics goes out the door.

Several dairies fall and one is left standing. This is all done in the name of efficiency. However, is there a benefit to society? Depopulating rural America is not in anyone's long-term interest.

I suspect the divorce of ethics from economics is primarily in the manner in which the problem is stated.

1 comment:

  1. From Appetite for Profit by Michele Simon:

    The biggest mistake most people make about corporations is seeing them as just people making decisions. Unlike most people-who have consciences and act (we hope) on the basis of some set of moral principles-a corporation is a fundamentally amoral institution. Of course, corporations are made up of people, but the decisions of individual corporate actors are not guided by precepts of right and wrong, but rather by a set of fiduciary principles that have little to do with personal morality and everything to do with growing profits.