The Spirit of the Soil examines environmental problems in industrial agriculture and challenges environmentalists to think more deeply about the ethical dimensions of agriculture's impact on the environment. Prof. Thompson considers environmental problems in industrial agriculture, such as the use of chemical pesticides and biotechnology, from an ethical perspective. He compares four worldviews'; productionism, stewardship, economics and holism, which frame these issues and the potential response to them according to different philosophical priorities. All four are found to have their inadequacies. Paul B. Thompson concludes the analysis with an open-ended and necessarily incomplete formulation of sustainability as the key goal for recapturing the spirit of the soil. He provides discussion of works by Baird Callicott, Wendell Berry, Wes Jackson and Allan Savory, and reviews the potential of conventional environmental ethics and resource economics. Paul B. Thompson is Director of the Center for Biotechnology, Policy and Ethics and Professor of Philosophy, Humanities and Agricultural Economics at Texas A & MUniversity.
He has taught and written extensively on agricultura and environmental ethics.