For a Sustainable Agriculture, We Need More Adam Smith, Not Less

University of Missouri Agricultural Economics Working Paper No. AEWP 2005-3

29 Pages Posted: 13 Jun 2005

See all articles by Harvey S. James, Jr.

Harvey S. James, Jr.

University of Missouri at Columbia - Division of Applied Social Sciences

Date Written: June 2005

Abstract

There are two competing approaches to sustainability in agriculture. One stresses a strict economic approach in which market forces should be allowed to 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. This paper shows how the writings of the 18th century moral philosopher Adam Smith could bridge the debate. First, he is recognized by those advocating the economic approach as an architect of modern economics. Second, his writings are consistent with many aspects of sustainable agriculture. Smith argues that people ought to exercise restraint in their pursuit of self-interest. He also recognizes the need to balance economic with environmental and social considerations. One implication is that advocates of sustainable agriculture might be more effective by actively promoting the work of Adam Smith.

Keywords: Sustainability, agriculture, Adam Smith

JEL Classification: B12, O13, Q01, Q56

Suggested Citation

James, Harvey S., For a Sustainable Agriculture, We Need More Adam Smith, Not Less (June 2005). University of Missouri Agricultural Economics Working Paper No. AEWP 2005-3, Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=742465 or http://dx.doi.org/10.2139/ssrn.742465

Harvey S. James (Contact Author)

University of Missouri at Columbia - Division of Applied Social Sciences ( email )

Columbia, MO
United States
573-884-9682 (Phone)

HOME PAGE: http://https://hsjames2.wordpress.com

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