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Beyond Modernization: Development Cooperation as Normative Practice

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In 2010, the Dutch Scientific Council for Governmental Policy called for an explicit and adequate intervention ethics for policy on international development cooperation. Yet, as appears from a careful reading of their report, the council’s own overall commitment to a modernist worldview hinders the fruitful development of such an intervention ethics. There is, however, a strand in their thinking that draws attention to the importance of practical knowledge. We argue specifically that an intervention ethics for development cooperation in agriculture should start from this practical knowledge, which points to the inherent normativity of agricultural development cooperation. That is, agricultural development cooperation is a normative practice of which the inherent normativity consists in facilitating other practices in the agricultural domain. As such, agricultural development cooperation should respect the normativity inherent in those other practices.

Affiliations: 1: Wageningen University, Wageningen, The Netherlands, ; 2: Wageningen University, Wageningen, The Netherlands,


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