paul has a new video  

 



visit the thread.

see the DVDs.

    Bookmark Topic Watch Topic
  • New Topic

my frustration with the three ethics  RSS feed

 
paul wheaton
master steward
Posts: 22594
Location: missoula, montana (zone 4)
bee chicken hugelkultur trees wofati woodworking
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
  • Report post to moderator
In another thread Ludi said

I've said it before and I'll say it again, I'm old school Church of Mollison. If it doesn't contain the ethics upon which permaculture is based, it isn't permaculture. In my opinion. It's something else, for instance it might be symbiculture or Natural Farming.


And then later I said

And on the permaculture ethics, i would like to take this opportunity to make my position clear: 1) I think the ethics are so vague that even chem-ag folks can honestly embrace them (they could even make a case that they follow the ethics more than permies). 2) I think the track record of the ethics to date has done far more harm for permaculture than help. 3) While I like to think I live every day with ethics, I choose to leave these particular words out of my permaculture toolbox because they just have not helped my efforts.


(I'm trying to not hijack a different thread)

And then Milton said:

Any single ethic by itself is pretty vague. Combine them though, and I think it creates a pretty precise framework to work within. It would seem like chem-ag is taking care of people at the expense of the other two ethics.

I would be very interested in examples of how the use of all three ethics has done more harm then help.


I suspect a chem ag company could say:

earth care: optimizing food production per acre so less land is needed to ....
people care: feed the people of the world
fair share / limits: working hard to improve income of all people involved in ag. new RR technology has reduced the consumption of chemicals overall

My point is that if embracing the ethics does not set a clear path away from chem ag, then these words aren't helping.

What I have seen these words do is be used to bash the crap out of decent people trying to do permaculture. In fact, the only time I have seen these words used as a tool was when the words were used by thieves to justify their thievery under the guise of "fair share".

Therefore, it is my opinion, that these words are doing the permaculture movement more harm than good.

Ethics are critically important to .... well ... everything. But these words are being used as tools by the unethical to bash the ethical.


 
paul wheaton
master steward
Posts: 22594
Location: missoula, montana (zone 4)
bee chicken hugelkultur trees wofati woodworking
  • Likes 3
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
  • Report post to moderator
A scenario I worry about is that a farmer has spent the last year trying to ditch chem-ag and embrace permaculture. It's been a lot of hard work but he is beginning to see the light. And then somebody says to him "so you think you are doing permaculture, huh? Recite the three ethics!" "Huh?" "The foundation of permaculture. The ethics. Recite them. Now." "I don't know what you are talking about." "Then you can't call what you are doing permaculture. In fact, until you take a PDC, sing songs to the earth, and participate in a talent show, you cannot call any of this .... this .... stuff you are doing 'permaculture'."

This is a scenario I am very uncomfortable with.

I would think that if a permie encounters a farmer trying to move toward permaculture, that the conversation would leave both parties happier and wiser. But any conversation about ethics seems to have the baggage of the suggestion of "hey buddy, I need to tell you about ethics because you are not living your life according to my standards - so I need you to become my personal bitch. And to do that, I have these words that I will beat you with until you submit."
 
paul wheaton
master steward
Posts: 22594
Location: missoula, montana (zone 4)
bee chicken hugelkultur trees wofati woodworking
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
  • Report post to moderator
Yes, I normally ban all discussion of the ethics. And .... this is my site and I can talk about whatever I want. There is an excellent chance that this thread will be closed or deleted or something, because every time this discussion pops up some people cannot help but get nasty.
 
Sandra Ellane
Posts: 71
Location: New Mexico high desert Zone 7a, alkaline soils. 9" average annual rainfall.
  • Likes 1
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
  • Report post to moderator
I share this sentiment, and I’m with H Ludi in that I’m pretty much old school Mollison. I guess because whenever I see his videos, he just seems so at ease with every situation and culture. I’ve never seen him “force” anyone into a certain way of thinking or even correct anyone. He walks through urban New York gardens, Botswanian villages, or Arizona deserts and he seems to be so appreciative that people are coming up with innovative ideas- anything to make a difference.

I don’t like getting hung up on what is or isn’t permaculture. Sure there’s those three ethics, but then there’s the big ole Prime Directive- ‘The only ethical decision is to take responsibility for our own existence and that of our children’s’ (although my damned kids have certainly displayed a mind of their own ). That’s nice and broad. I mean, how can we fault anyone when they’re rejecting the attitude of “meh, what difference does it make” and really trying to be part of the solution?
 
paul wheaton
master steward
Posts: 22594
Location: missoula, montana (zone 4)
bee chicken hugelkultur trees wofati woodworking
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
  • Report post to moderator
I fully support Ludi's idea of permaculture and how it is awesome for Ludi.

And the whole "Church of Mollison" thing is something I see a fair bit of - I support folks signing up for that package.

I suspect that most people practicing permaculture spend their time focused on hugelkultur, solar power, eco building, polyculture and stuff like that. I suspect they haven't given any thought to the ethics for a long time.


 
hannah ransom
Posts: 81
Location: Los Angeles, CA
1
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
  • Report post to moderator
Hm.. Though I see what you are saying, Paul, about the chem ag people being able to argue that they embody the ethics, do they really? I think it's quite simple to say that they do not. Because if someone is doing anything to harm people or animals thenn it wouldn't be in line with permacultural ethics and they obviously are. I do think that the ethics of permaculture are important, though I don't think about them much when implementing permaculture. I think about them a lot in my life, and my use of permaculture fits well with my values, so it all works out.
 
paul wheaton
master steward
Posts: 22594
Location: missoula, montana (zone 4)
bee chicken hugelkultur trees wofati woodworking
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
  • Report post to moderator
do they really? I think it's quite simple to say that they do not.


There's the rub.

Your interpretation says that their behavior does not comply.

Their interpretation says that they comply more than you.

Therefore, the ethics didn't do the job we hoped they would do.

I have a podcast with toby hemenway where we talk about this. And he points out that he has met these people and he thinks that they would believe to the core that they are following the three ethics TODAY!


 
Sandra Ellane
Posts: 71
Location: New Mexico high desert Zone 7a, alkaline soils. 9" average annual rainfall.
  • Likes 3
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
  • Report post to moderator
I’m thinking that the folks who are interested in permaculture, organics, alternative energy, etc, have those ethics in their blood already, so they practice them without thinking about them.

Years ago I dated a guy who moved here from back east to obtain his degree in environmental engineering. He loved the outdoors, mountains, etc. You would think he would be all into this eco stuff, right? Well, he would look at my stingy utility use and keeping a bucket around for water reuse, and he would try to convince me that my efforts aren’t making a bit of difference- that I’m saving mere pennies, it’s not worth the effort. He never understood my response that it is the mindset, that if everyone was mindful of their footprint, the interest in raping the planet would be the thing drying up.

I think that when we all post with our ideas for soil enrichment, creative frugality, solar collector inventions, and everyone else gets excited and chimes in with more ideas, the ethics are there even if they’re unspoken.
 
paul wheaton
master steward
Posts: 22594
Location: missoula, montana (zone 4)
bee chicken hugelkultur trees wofati woodworking
  • Likes 2
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
  • Report post to moderator
Sandra Ellane wrote:I think that when we all post with our ideas for soil enrichment, creative frugality, solar collector inventions, and everyone else gets excited and chimes in with more ideas, the ethics are there even if they’re unspoken.


I agree. I think this is what I was trying to say, but you said it better.

 
Sandra Ellane
Posts: 71
Location: New Mexico high desert Zone 7a, alkaline soils. 9" average annual rainfall.
  • Likes 1
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
  • Report post to moderator
paul wheaton wrote:
do they really? I think it's quite simple to say that they do not.


There's the rub.

Your interpretation says that their behavior does not comply.

Their interpretation says that they comply more than you.

Therefore, the ethics didn't do the job we hoped they would do.

I have a podcast with Toby Hemenway where we talk about this. And he points out that he has met these people and he thinks that they would believe to the core that they are following the three ethics TODAY!




Unfortunately eveyone seems to have jumped on the spin bandwagon. What you just brought up reminds me of your podcast on greed. The things coming out of their mouths are probably just to get a desired response.
 
paul wheaton
master steward
Posts: 22594
Location: missoula, montana (zone 4)
bee chicken hugelkultur trees wofati woodworking
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
  • Report post to moderator
Sandra Ellane wrote:

Unfortunately eveyone seems to have jumped on the spin bandwagon. What you just brought up reminds me of your podcast on greed. The things coming out of their mouths are probably just to get a desired response.


Excellent point. They are trying to say anything to get validation for their action.



 
            
Posts: 58
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
  • Report post to moderator
Paul: Do you think that chem ag industry is truly following the ethics?

I agree that it is simple, they are not, no question in my mind. Sure they could argue that they are but one could argue all day long and not convince this person one bit. It is not a lack of openmindess it is just that the ethics are clear and good and should be followed when the option allows it. Of course we are competing against others who do not follow the ethics and sometimes they set the bar unfortunately for one to survive. I understand your point but seems like meaningless drivel to me, or highly antagonistic. Do you have something wrong with any one ethic more than another? Could you maybe enlighten us to what your three ethics would look like? Maybe they are more specific, because it is obvious that you care about the earth and all of its inhabitants.
 
paul wheaton
master steward
Posts: 22594
Location: missoula, montana (zone 4)
bee chicken hugelkultur trees wofati woodworking
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
  • Report post to moderator
Ryan H wrote:Paul: Do you think that chem ag industry is truly following the ethics?


Again, that's the point. As much as I think they are not, THEY think they are.

I think the idea with the three ethics is that if you embrace these words, they will guide you to awesomeness. But what I see is people that already have awesomeness embrace the words and they remain awesome. And I see people that are icky embrace the words and they are still icky.

Do you have something wrong with any one ethic more than another?


I'm going to assume you meant to say "Do you have more concerns with one any one ethic more than the others?"

I have problem with the third ethic the most because that is the one that I have seen used in a feeble attempt to justify criminal behavior.

Could you maybe enlighten us to what your three ethics would look like?


I guess I cannot. Which is again my point.







 
Jonathan Byron
Posts: 225
1
  • Likes 2
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
  • Report post to moderator
1. Care of the earth
2. Care of the people
3. Accepting limits to population and consumption


A) The big chem boys are clearly not following the 3 ethical principles of permaculture. They might try to make the case for 1, but that is going to get more laughs and Bronx cheers than credibilty. For number 2, they can claim that they are providing food at a lower price (which helps people) but much of what they try to pass off as food is counterfeit and unhealthy. And in terms of limits (to soil, energy and other factors related to 3, they don't seem to be making too many claims, although they likely believe in fairy tales like unlimited growth and a world without limits - such notions can be very inspiring, but in the end are really just another version of "The Secret", which promises us that everyone can get everything they want.

B) These principles really are rather general. It is inevitable that people in the permaculture community will interpret them differently, implement them in their own lives in different ways, etc. But that is true of every group.

C) Half of the third principle is like gravity, it does not even require that people believe in it! The other half is a recognition that is is good to recognize reality and adapt our thoughts to it instead of denying reality and trying to bend our views of reality to match our arbitrary and false ideas. The Earth is finite, and a limited amount of useable sunshine falls on the Earth; there is an upper limit on photosynthetic activity and life. We can live in closer stability to that limit by intelligently designing our landscapes to maximize use of whatever resources are most scarce, forgoing waste, etc. We can take action to increase or decrease the buffer between humanity and the upper limit. But we cannot surpass that limit except temporary basis using stored resources (petroleum, soil, guana, mineral deposits), and doing so depletes or degrades those resources.

D) It is silly to think that ethics, laws, communication, science, good will to others, self-interest, foresight, determination, or any one thing alone is enough to navigate life or solve all societal problems. But that recognition does not negate the value of any of these. All of these can be part of the problem, part of the solution, or both part of the problem and the solution. The fact that the chemical boys think they are ethical is really akin to the idea that most psychopaths think there is nothing wrong with what they do. Does this mean that ethics are worthless (and that murder, rape, theft, and fraud are all ok) ... or does it merely reflect the fact that some people always distort the best of ideas, and that there has always been a real world gap between what is and what should be?
 
George Collins
Posts: 88
Location: South Central Mississippi
1
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
  • Report post to moderator
Paul,

Tis true that Monsanto et al probably could sincerely take the position that they are following the three ethics. That is the problem with ethics - they are WAY subjective and VERY broad. People can make all sorts of sincere claims that they are following the high road of having their actions guided by the highest ethical standards. And to them, according to their own subjective belief of what constitutes high ethical standards, they are. I used to be a cop and even the worst of the worst never thought they were fundamentally evil people. That is the nature of being human - we always try to justify our actions. The child molester will seek to justify his own actions in his own eyes by convincing himself that he is just doing what everyone else wishes they had the guts to do if only they were brave enough to swim against societal mores. And what's more, they rationalize, the child enjoyed it. The sot rationalizes his own actions with platitudes like, "I'm just trying to have a good time." The crack dealer rationalizes his existence by saying, "I don't make nobody do crack. I'm just giving people what they want."

And my response to them was always the same. "Turn around and put your hands behind your back." (I loved that part. I loved it even more if they didn't for then I was justified in following a whole different set of principles.)

In business, ethics are harped on endlessly. And human beings, being what they are, companies, after drilling ethics ad nauseum, have rule books, large enough to make any lawyer proud, to force employees into codes of conduct they deem are in line with their ethics i.e. profitable.

So much for their ethics.

The rule books are so damn large, comprehensive and oppressive, one walks in fear at all times of being terminated for violations so obscure that only the one bringing the charge knows of the existence of said rule and then only because they went looking for a reason to get some hapless bastard in trouble because of some personal slight.

So much for rules.

Principles are much better. They add more clarity, more substance, less wiggle room while still allowing for actions to be tailored, within reason, to the circumstances of the moment. It is only through understanding the X number of principles that the original intent of the ethics become more focused. As one who is in the market for a PDC, I have recently been exposed to both the three ethics and the X number of principles. Had I stopped after merely reading the three ethics, and acted upon the initial mental image created by them, I'd a been out there French-kissing the gumbo mud that heretofore I had cursed for sticking to my boots so badly. But after reading the 12 Design Principles (found here), I now have a much better mental image of what I think the intent of the three ethics are. Or at least I hope I do cause if someone tells me that I really do have to French kiss gumbo mud to be a good permaculturalist then I must resign myself to seeking some other group of folks who don't take that whole "earth-care" thingy quite so literally. And for you hymn singer types - Daddy don't sang. If y'all wanna have a get together centered around some home brew and chewing tobakker - count me in!

Steven Covey got rich writing about having a principle-centered approach to life. I think, that if one were to follow the design principles, i.e. if we become principle centered, then following the three ethics will flow as a natural, logical sequele.

A friend of mine told me once:
Rules are many,
Principles are few,
Rules always change,
Principles never do.

Looking at the 12 design principles listed at the included link, seems obvious to me that Monsanto et al, as it relates to their GMOs, would have a difficult time justifying their actions in light of (at least):
4. Apply self-regulation and accept feedback
5. Use and value renewable resources and services
6. Produce no waste
7. Use small and slow solutions
8. Use and value diversity

There are other principles that their actions seem to violate that lie outside of the realm of permaculture. That is to say that the ethics and principles that fall under the umbrella of permaculture are not all-encompassing. geoff lawton stated it eloquently when he informed us that the PDC is a transformative event that teaches a person to see the world through design eyes. The first sentence from the Wikipedia page on permaculture states, "Permaculture is an approach to designing human settlements and agricultural systems that is modeled on the relationships found in nature." As long as one doesn't try to make permaculture into more than it is, then I think the three ethics interpreted through the X number of principles are a great expression of how one goes about making an individual contribution toward achieving this goal.

And if permaculture truly is the best system, and if Geoff Lawton is correct that the mainstream is about to be washed onto the beaches of permaculture by a tsunami of popular enthusiasm (something I personally think is wishful thinking), then you need not worry about the Monsanto types for they will be swept along with all the rest. If permaculture truly is the best, then let Monsanto and their minions continue on in their ignorance. For if they resist sufficiently, they will be the ones left in the cold, eating crow and a big ol heaping helping of humble pie ala compost while you and I lounge about in our forest gardens yelling at our grandkids to, "Get your little butts the H.E.Doublehockeysticks outta my Jujube tree and slop them damn hogs like I done told ya to!"
 
Dale Hodgins
gardener
Posts: 6814
Location: Victoria British Columbia-Canada
270
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
  • Report post to moderator
I've always lived in a manner which serves to protect the environment and have made my living in an environmentally positive manner. I only heard of permaculture a few months ago, but I've been practicing my own version of it. When I eventually get around to reading Mollinson's books, I'm sure I'll get some good planting and growing ideas.

But, I have no intention of changing any of my core beliefs, becoming nicer or adopting the idea of sharing with nonproducers. This runs counter to a core value of mine.---------- I was raised by hard-core 'Bible thumpers". We were taught that those who won't work are undeserving of food or other comforts and certainly are unworthy of respect. Although I'm an atheist, that part stuck with me. I've also played a bit of mix-and-match with the 10 Commandments. I'm all for some of them, and others have no relevance whatsoever to my life.

No amount of hairsplitting on ethic number three will ever cause me to waiver. I find it comical that many seem convinced that their chatter will be taken seriously. In fact, whenever I read the mountains of self-serving trite written on this, I make a point of coming up with newer and better ways of sabotaging the efforts of the idle class. I've heard more than enough from these folks, both online and on the streets of Victoria.

Recently, I've hatched a plan to bribe some of them into taking a one-way trip, well beyond the borders of my city. This will save productive people in Victoria, British Columbia, about $30,000 per head per year. So I'm going so far as to adjust the demographics in my own community to better fit my idea of how we should live. I know that preaching at them will do no good whatsoever.

In discussing this plan with a like-minded member of local government, he said---. "We need to really be careful of the optics on a plan like this. What would we call it?"---- I'm calling the program "homeward bound." It has a nice ring to it, and sounds much better than, "get out of here and stop being a lazy ass beggar."

Just as I'm not open to changing my ways, most of these people are unwilling to change their's. So I'm facilitating a parting of ways, thus avoiding future conflict. Very permaculturey.
 
Fred Morgan
steward
Posts: 979
Location: Northern Zone, Costa Rica - 200 to 300 meters Tropical Humid Rainforest
15
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
  • Report post to moderator
I agree, it is easier to get around ethics than principles. And it is principles that direct your steps, whereas you try to avoid violating your ethics. One is passive, ethics, whereas principles is your goals. It seems to me my experience with people when they talk about ethics is they see just how close they can get to violating them, without crossing the line.

My principles are pretty simple.

Support myself while not exploiting nor being exploited.
Respect others have the freedom to be different from me and I have the freedom to be different from them.
If I have too much, give it away to those who are unable to support themselves (unable, not, unwilling) - let nothing just rot if someone could use it.
Listen more than talk.
Life is not about winning (boy do I have to be careful about that one!) but about being.
Family is more about those of like mind, than those of the same blood.

Simply, my goal is to have given more than I have taken during my time here.

 
paul wheaton
master steward
Posts: 22594
Location: missoula, montana (zone 4)
bee chicken hugelkultur trees wofati woodworking
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
  • Report post to moderator
Fred Morgan wrote:my experience with people when they talk about ethics is they see just how close they can get to violating them, without crossing the line.


I think you said it more concisely than i could.

People with a strong sense of ethics, find themselves deep in ethical territory. It is those that wish to find the loopholes that spend a lot of time talking about ethics.




 
Jonathan Byron
Posts: 225
1
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
  • Report post to moderator
Fred, its not "ethics vs principles" it is "rules vs principles". Principles are simple and general and can be used by thinking people to help make a decision, while rules are specific, and a person who is rule based has no guidance when there is no rule to guide a specific situation. One can have develop principles (or rules) on what to wear, how to use verbs, how to react to specific situations in customer service, etc. etc.

Ethics is about determining right from wrong; one can approach ethics using general principles, specific rules, or both.



 
Tyler Ludens
pollinator
Posts: 9744
Location: Central Texas USA Latitude 30 Zone 8
186
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
  • Report post to moderator
Just want to clarify what I'm personally referring to when I mention "the ethics of permaculture":

"The word 'permaculture' can be used by anybody adhering to the ethics and principles expressed herein. The only restriction on use is that of teaching; only graduates of a Permaculture Insitute can teach 'permaculture', and they adhere to agreed-on curriculae developed by the College of Graduates of the Institutes of Permaculture." Preface "Permaculture: a Designers' Manual" by Bill Mollison

"The Ethical Basis of Permaculture

1. Care of the Earth: Provision for all life systems to continue and multiply.
2. Care of People: Provision for people to access those resources necessary for their existence.
3. Setting limits to population and consumption: By governing our own needs, we can set resources aside to further the above principles." Chapter 1 "Permaculture: a Designers' Manual" by Bill Mollison.

Mollison goes on to discuss at length what he means by these ethics and why he thinks they're important in the context of permaculture.
 
Jonathan Byron
Posts: 225
1
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
  • Report post to moderator
"The word 'permaculture' can be used by anybody adhering to the ethics and principles expressed herein."

That suggests that anyone who does not agree and adhere with the ethics and principles but uses the term is violating the an intellectual property license, and is not so different from those who want to take copyright works and distribute them for free. Of course, it is not clear how enforceable this license on the word permaculture is, or if there are loopholes.


 
Tyler Ludens
pollinator
Posts: 9744
Location: Central Texas USA Latitude 30 Zone 8
186
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
  • Report post to moderator
Personally I think it is more of an issue of honor and integrity than a legal issue. A person who uses and benefits from use of the word "permaculture" but who refuses to adhere to the ethics and principles seems to be willfully violating the wishes and intentions of Bill Mollison. Especially if that person is outspoken in their disdain of the ethics.
 
paul wheaton
master steward
Posts: 22594
Location: missoula, montana (zone 4)
bee chicken hugelkultur trees wofati woodworking
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
  • Report post to moderator
Really, really driving my point home.

If somebody wants to start down the permaculture path, other permies can bash their brains out screaming "the three ethics!"

In the mean time, chem ag can call their stuff "permaculture" and the same people can say "no!" but nobody is going to actually stop them.

So we have tools to discourage the very people I want to help.

is not so different from those who want to take copyright works and distribute them for free.


And the only time I have ever seen the phrase used for anything other than philosophical discussion, was where somebody was violating a copyright and claiming that anybody that stood against their actions has to give up the word "permaculture" because their actions were part of the third ethic.



 
paul wheaton
master steward
Posts: 22594
Location: missoula, montana (zone 4)
bee chicken hugelkultur trees wofati woodworking
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
  • Report post to moderator
H Ludi Tyler wrote:Personally I think it is more of an issue of honor and integrity than a legal issue. A person who uses and benefits from use of the word "permaculture" but who refuses to adhere to the ethics and principles seems to be willfully violating the wishes and intentions of Bill Mollison. Especially if that person is outspoken in their disdain of the ethics.


Do we know of people that are using the word permaculture but are refusing to adhere to the ethics and principles?



 
Jonathan Byron
Posts: 225
1
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
  • Report post to moderator
I recall someone inventing a term that involved horticulture and Pocohontas, and they were rather emphatic that the term was theirs to control and that it only be used in certain ways. Seems that the person is not willing to recognize that others have the same right to create terms and define their meaning.

We have a legally defined standard called organic. If farmers want to move kinda sorta towards that vision, great, some good will usually come out of that. But if they don't meet all the definition of the standard, it simply isn't organic, and to call it that is wrong. They can describe themselves as semi-organic or inspired by organic, but they must refrain from claiming that their produce is organic or organically grown. They can use generic terms like 'grown without pesticides' or describe their land ethic, their concepts of stewardship, and how their product is good for reasons X, Y and Z. But it ain't the United Horticulture of Pocohontas, even if it is doing all sorts of good.

I agree with you, Paul, in that there may be some people who are fanatical, who have an interpretation of permaculture or permaculture ethics that I disagree with. But that is something that the permaculture community needs to discuss. I think that the large majority of people who are in permaculture welcome traditional farmers who are interested in learning from the ideas of permaculture, who are interested in moving towards using fewer chemicals, tilling less, talking about sustainability, etc etc. Permaculture ethics do not require people to shave their heads, sell all their possessions, and give the money to poor people on the other side of the world. It does require us to think about people and consider the consequences of our agricultural, economic and cultural systems.

 
Fred Morgan
steward
Posts: 979
Location: Northern Zone, Costa Rica - 200 to 300 meters Tropical Humid Rainforest
15
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
  • Report post to moderator
Jonathan Byron wrote:Fred, its not "ethics vs principles" it is "rules vs principles". Principles are simple and general and can be used by thinking people to help make a decision, while rules are specific, and a person who is rule based has no guidance when there is no rule to guide a specific situation. One can have develop principles (or rules) on what to wear, how to use verbs, how to react to specific situations in customer service, etc. etc.

Ethics is about determining right from wrong; one can approach ethics using general principles, specific rules, or both.



To often, ethics is something you work around in the business world. I say this from 30 years in the business world watching people do it. Same thing for laws, rules, etc. But, the goals of a company are what guide it.

Principles are not rules - the are the reason for the rules. An example would be a principle is to dress modestly. A rule would be not to wear shorts.

Just my opinion
 
Fred Morgan
steward
Posts: 979
Location: Northern Zone, Costa Rica - 200 to 300 meters Tropical Humid Rainforest
15
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
  • Report post to moderator
One thing that I have seen down here with coffee is the term transition. There is a requirement for organic coffee for three years without pesticides if I recall correctly. Well, growing without pesticides cost more, at the beginning, than growing with. Without a middle ground, called transition, it is hard for farmers to switch to shade grown organic.

Transitional farms are very very important. People still have to eat, pay their bills, etc.
 
Jonathan Byron
Posts: 225
1
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
  • Report post to moderator
Fred, I don't doubt that many companies merely pay lip service to the idea of ethics, although I have worked for some companies that are quite serious about having their employees behave in a way that is honest and responsible. The corporate games and buzzwords that deal with right and wrong are only one small part of ethics. Some corporations also pay a lot of worthless lip service to safety, but that does not lead me to reject the idea of safe conduct as an empty and worthless sham.

Every one here has a land ethic, whether they call it that or not, whether it is fuzzy at the edges or clearly defined, and whether they practice their idea of what is right consistently, occasionally, or rarely. Without an ethic, there is no way to say that spraying poisons or using genetically modified organisms or silting up a stream that flows through a property is right or wrong. Without ethics, there is no way to say that murder or theft is right or wrong.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Land_ethic
 
Brian Laggis
Posts: 5
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
  • Report post to moderator
Why the Fair Share Ethic Matters -

I'll try to keep this short and sweet. Fair Share matters because it forces people to break away from their "ME!" centered worldview, where one takes purely for their own monetary profit. It is a stretch, but big ag companies can say that they are caring for the land (by growing more crops per acre, saving the amount of farmland needed) and caring for people (by providing butt loads of cheap food), but what they can't claim is fair share. These companies use resources and pollute in a way that is not fair to the earth or people (especially future generations). The 3 ethics represent a system and I don't think they can stand alone - there is considerable overlap (for example - by taking my fair share of resources I am caring for the earth and people)

I think that some of the people who don't like the ethics are afraid that they lead to moral superiority on the part of those championing them. While some people may have experienced this I don't think that this experience discounts the system of ethics. One does have to satisfy their own needs before they are able to consider the needs of others. The permaculture ethics encourage sharing the surplus and realizing that more for you is in fact more for me - if you are healthy and happy then I also benefit.
 
                      
Posts: 6
Location: New Hampshire
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
  • Report post to moderator
Written rules are nothing but lawyer fodder. DW and I married at 20 (18 years ago). We wrote our own vows and over the course of a rather turbulent life have lost every written and recorded copy of them. The result? We're stuck with each other and there are no loopholes. The 10 commandments have wiggle room. Vows have wiggle room. Ethics don't, unless they're written down.

Dale Hodgins wrote:I make a point of coming up with newer and better ways of sabotaging the efforts of the idle class. I've heard more than enough from these folks, both online and on the streets of Victoria. Recently, I've hatched a plan to bribe some of them into taking a one-way trip, well beyond the borders of my city. This will save productive people in Victoria, British Columbia, about $30,000 per head per year. So I'm going so far as to adjust the demographics in my own community to better fit my idea of how we should live. I know that preaching at them will do no good whatsoever.

In discussing this plan with a like-minded member of local government, he said---. "We need to really be careful of the optics on a plan like this. What would we call it?"---- I'm calling the program "homeward bound." It has a nice ring to it, and sounds much better than, "get out of here and stop being a lazy ass beggar."

Just as I'm not open to changing my ways, most of these people are unwilling to change their's. So I'm facilitating a parting of ways, thus avoiding future conflict. Very permaculturey.

How do you define "the idle class?" My sister's husband is in insurance. His dad (in insurance) had a friend who wanted to retire and "sold" his store to my brother in law. The deal meant that my brother in law took ownership of what is basically a printing press for money and in return gave the retiree a cut of the proceeds for several years. He doesn't do anything but drink scotch and play golf, so I'd call him idle even though he calls himself a job creator. My boss is the owner's son. He's a great guy and I like him a lot, but he counts as idle too. He has a good job in management and makes a boatload of money, but he spends his time bowling, playing darts and giving money to his bookie. He's idle as hell. His biggest economic impact is in his bookie's town. I know bunches of idlers that we'd be better off without.

Jonathan Byron wrote:We have a legally defined standard called organic. If farmers want to move kinda sorta towards that vision, great, some good will usually come out of that. But if they don't meet all the definition of the standard, it simply isn't organic, and to call it that is wrong.

As long as letting the government truck frozen pizzas to elementary schools and count them as servings of vegetables isn't wrong, then calling actual vegetables organic even they don't exactly meet the legal definition isn't wrong either. I'd rather behave ethically than legally.
 
Jonathan Byron
Posts: 225
1
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
  • Report post to moderator
If a slice of pizza contains enough tomatoes, onions and olives to qualify as a serving of vegetables, then eating that slice is no different than eating a spot of thick tomato stew while having a piece of bread on the side. But I am not convinced that the typical slice of pizza served in school cafeterias contains enough veggies to qualify as one serving. The word 'pizza' is rather ambiguous, I have seen desert pizzas loaded with candy, absolutely zero veggies.

You are muddling the issue by beginning with a dubious statement that you are trying to pass off as true ("If it is not wrong that pizza is called a veggie") when we agree that statement is suspect and possibly wrong (even if others proclaim it to be right). If your axioms are false, you cannot trust anything that you can deduce or infer from those axioms... logic fail.

My ethical logic is clear: it is wrong to call a slice of pizza a serving of veggies unless it does contain a serving of veggies, it is wrong to call produce 'organic' unless it was produced according to the organic standards, it is wrong to call something permaculture when that something does not conform to the definition of permaculture.
 
Burra Maluca
Mother Tree
Posts: 10066
Location: Portugal
936
bee bike books duck forest garden greening the desert solar trees wofati
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
  • Report post to moderator
Some people make pizzas absolutely loaded with veggies because that's how they like to eat them - these people don't need to rules about what constitutes a pizza because the way they make them is naturally loaded with veggies. To them, discussing what veggies are appropriate and in what quantities and proportions is a big waste of valuable pizza-eating time.

Some people need a bit of guidance as to how many and what sort of veggies are appropriate for a pizza if it's to be classed as a proper pizza. They can be directed to an appropriate forum which discusses such things.

Some people don't give a damn and eat pizza with no veggies on at all - I guess these people shouldn't call what they are eating pizza. At least, not in front of other people.

 
Tyler Ludens
pollinator
Posts: 9744
Location: Central Texas USA Latitude 30 Zone 8
186
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
  • Report post to moderator
Burra Maluca wrote:
Some people don't give a damn and eat pizza with no veggies on at all - I guess these people shouldn't call what they are eating pizza. At least, not in front of other people.



No, they shouldn't call pizza a "vegetable". Calling pizza with no veggies on it "pizza" is fine.
 
Burra Maluca
Mother Tree
Posts: 10066
Location: Portugal
936
bee bike books duck forest garden greening the desert solar trees wofati
  • Likes 1
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
  • Report post to moderator
If it has no veggies, I tend to call it 'bread'.
 
paul wheaton
master steward
Posts: 22594
Location: missoula, montana (zone 4)
bee chicken hugelkultur trees wofati woodworking
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
  • Report post to moderator
I see four groups:

1) Good people trying to make the world a better place using techniques that could fall under the permaculture umbrella. Part of being good people is that they seek acceptance and kind words from other communities. Including permaculture communities.

2) Chem ag that will do what they want and issue press releases saying "we're the best thing for the environment" and they are entirely deaf to other communities.

3) Permaculture people that want to say "you cannot call that permaculture because you are not doing it in a way that I approve of". Usually this seems to be tied to the permaculture ethics. Their message never reaches group 2, but it does have a large impact on group 1.

4) People that commit crimes and say that this is okay because, they are certain, the permaculture ethics says it is okay. And if "some person" is uncomfortable with the crimes, then "some person" cannot use the word "permaculture." Again, group 2 doesn't care. And group 1 is in an awkward position.

I think that the work I do is to save the world. I want to see more people using permaculture techniques instead of chem ag techniques. I like the idea that some day, all of the food you can buy anywhere is permaculture food. Chem food just isn't sold anymore because farmers have figured out that it sucks.

My concern is that just as I am on the verge of convincing somebody to try permaculture techniques and they are considering letting go of chem ag, along comes somebody from group 3 or 4 to ... uh .... make it clear what is "real" permaculture. And then these good people decide that chem ag is a better fit for them.

I see people doing things in a good, decent and ethical way. And I see people from group 3 and 4 bashing them in the name of the permaculture ethics.

I see permaculture being the most powerful tool in the toolset of changing the world for the better. And, at the same time, I see it not being able to go anywhere because of massive infighting - and most of the infighting is rooted in the three ethics. And a lot of the posts I see here are proving my point (and these posts are gentle and respectful).

I suspect that soon I will lock this thread and return to the general policy of how we do not discuss the permaculture ethics on these forums.

 
Jonathan Byron
Posts: 225
1
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
  • Report post to moderator
paul wheaton wrote:I see four groups:

My concern is that just as I am on the verge of convincing somebody to try permaculture techniques and they are considering letting go of chem ag, along comes somebody from group 3 or 4 to ... uh .... make it clear what is "real" permaculture. And then these good people decide that chem ag is a better fit for them.



Is this a hypothetical concern, or does it occur every week? The local permaculture group in this neck of the woods has visited a few farms. None of these farms would describe themselves as very permacultury, though the owners were interested and making some movement away from standard chemical ag. And I witnessed not one incident where anyone bashed the farm owner, called them an infidel, or demanded that they give their golf clubs to a family in Malawi. We wanted to learn from the farmers, the farmers wanted to learn from us, it was all good.
 
Tyler Ludens
pollinator
Posts: 9744
Location: Central Texas USA Latitude 30 Zone 8
186
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
  • Report post to moderator
Jonathan Byron wrote:
Is this a hypothetical concern, or does it occur every week? The local permaculture group in this neck of the woods has visited a few farms. None of these farms would describe themselves as very permacultury, though the owners were interested and making some movement away from standard chemical ag. And I witnessed not one incident where anyone bashed the farm owner, called them an infidel, or demanded that they give their golf clubs to a family in Malawi. We wanted to learn from the farmers, the farmers wanted to learn from us, it was all good.


Would the concern over "is it real permaculture" even be relevant in that situation? If the farmers didn't claim they were practicing permaculture, why would a permaculturist consider it necessary to point out what the non-permaculturist was practicing wasn't "real permaculture"? Seems to me the discussion of "real" versus "not-real" permaculture could only arise in a discussion between permaculturists - it could never arise between a permaculturist and someone who was considering permaculture or just learning about permaculture. To me this is a non-sensical consideration. It would be like someone who plays baseball complaining that the people who are playing soccer but considering maybe playing baseball aren't following the rules of baseball in their soccer games.

 
Fred Morgan
steward
Posts: 979
Location: Northern Zone, Costa Rica - 200 to 300 meters Tropical Humid Rainforest
15
  • Likes 1
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
  • Report post to moderator
But, as with baseball, you have very rigid rules, but, as an example, would you tell a bunch of kids who are playing baseball, though they don't know all the rules (like in field fly rule) that they aren't really playing baseball? Or perhaps, would you be glad they are playing outside, and tell them a few more rules, if they wished to know about them. They might also tell you that they are just having fun and you can take your rules and stuff them...

All the time people play sports and call it by its name (baseball, football, soccer, etc) but really don't follow the rules. But it looks like the right thing, so you call it that.

And perhaps that is what matters - not so much the ethics, as are you getting to the goal of permaculture?
 
Jonathan Byron
Posts: 225
1
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
  • Report post to moderator
H Ludi, I look at this in terms of fuzzy logic, a branch of math/logic. Some things are A and not B. Some things are B and not A. But other things are somewhat A and somewhat B.

An individual land owner can be 30% permaculture in his operations, 70% not permaculture. Or some other balance, according to his or her inclination. I am fine with that. As far as how they want to practice things, I think that some permaculture thinking and practice is better than none, and that lots of permaculture is better than a little permaculture. And no one is grading individual farms and failing those that don't live up to this standard or that.

But I am not fine with arbitrarily redefining what A and B are for the sake of convenience, (or in this case, of stripping out ethics from permaculture). Permaculture includes ethics in its definition and vision. Those who don't fully subscribe to the definition and vision of permaculture can still learn from it, can still practice some of it, but it is error to pretend that a 50% permaculture is 100% permaculture, error to try to weaken the standard by which things are measured.
 
Tyler Ludens
pollinator
Posts: 9744
Location: Central Texas USA Latitude 30 Zone 8
186
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
  • Report post to moderator
Fred Morgan wrote:

And perhaps that is what matters - not so much the ethics, as are you getting to the goal of permaculture?


To me the goal of permaculture IS the ethics. The goal of permaculture, to me, is care of the earth and of people, the third ethic is about how to accomplish the first two goals.
 
Create symphonies in seed and soil. For this tiny ad:
Complete Wild Edibles Package by Sergei Boutenko (1 HD video + 10 eBooks)
https://permies.com/t/70674/digital-market/digital-market/Complete-Wild-Edibles-Package-Sergei
    Bookmark Topic Watch Topic
  • New Topic
Boost this thread!