The PRI Third Ethic thread

Discussion in 'The big picture' started by pebble, May 28, 2012.

  1. pebble

    pebble Junior Member

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    It came up in another thread. About the Third Ethic, and how we are good with discussing that here on the PRI forum.

    So, what do we think about the Third Ethic itself?
     
  2. pebble

    pebble Junior Member

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  3. Avant-Gardener

    Avant-Gardener Junior Member

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    I think it is unfortunate that there seem to be so many variations and interpretations of the third ethic. But it is certainly better to have some differences on the actual definition than no ethics at all. I am of those who think that ethics are the beginning and end of permaculture, and I wonder what permaculture would become without it, as some portions of the permaculture world seem to be already well on their way to get rid of the ethics.
     
  4. eco4560

    eco4560 New Member

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    I'm a Holmgrenist - Bill's version appears to simply recycle the surplus back into your own system, rather than sharing it around. You could argue that Bill's view of setting aside resources encompasses sharing of resources in a community but it isn't as explicit.
    My take on it? I share my knowledge, I give away plant material / seeds, I hand out any produce that I can't use myself in a reasonable time (eggs, fruit, pumpkins - anyone in SEQ is welcome to enjoy my bounty!), I offer a bed to anyone who needs it, share my books and so on. I could charge money for all those things and I have no issue with those that do that, but I'm fortunate enough to not need to do that at the present time in order to make ends meet.
    I really object to the apparent misuse of the Third Ethic to mean that someone can illegally copy Permaculture videos and post them to a torrent site without the permission of the copyright holder. That's not redistributing surplus - that's theft.
     
  5. Grahame

    Grahame Senior Member

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    I was all set to have a crack at this earlier Pebble, and everything I wrote didn't seem quite right. I went back and read the other threads to see if I could get an understanding of where the tension was - I hadn't understood what the debate was about. I may not still, but when I came across some of pippimac's comments I suddenly got a sense of how peoples' basic internal structures can effect our interpretation of something. It also gave me an insight into the subtle differences between the Australian and US cultures. I was completely oblivious to the thought that some folks might think fairness was in some way unfair :)

    When I was examining my thoughts, I didn't really see how the 'fair share' take on 3rd ethic was separate from the Care of People ethic. Like, sharing and redistributing the surplus was just part of what people care would look like.

    We sell some of our produce, and I have had a debate with myself about how 'permaculture' that is. But, I justify it by telling myself that I am providing a high-quality, low environmental impact food to people who may otherwise not have it available to them. In a society where permaculture is fringe rather than integrated I don't think it would be possible for us to do otherwise.

    We also give away a lot.

    When I think of the third ethic as being more about returning the surplus to the first two ethics, my personal criticism of myself is that I have a more leaky system than I would like. So, with this slant, I think perhaps the third ethic taps more into the first than the second. However, I think if the wider community was an integrated permaculture this would not be as important or noticable. In most cases the money I do receive for the export is used to return something to the system by way of improvement.

    So I think by embracing the subtle differences in the way Bill and David (and anyone else) might be expressing the 3rd, we are just embracing a deeper understanding of the ethic as it relates to us. We just see a different reflection in each of the mirrors they are holding up for us.
     
  6. Ludi

    Ludi Junior Member

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    For a long time I was only familiar with Mollison's version of the 3rd ethic, from the Designers Manual, and was unaware of the short form of the 3rd ethic "fair share." I wonder if the problems some people have with the idea of "fair share" might stem from a deep sense of insecurity. People in the US are very insecure at this point in history. This is just a guess.
     
  7. ecodharmamark

    ecodharmamark Junior Member

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    G'day pebble

    Re: the above, and from the same site via the 'contact - about us' page (my emphasis in bold):

    This project is conceived, designed and written by Richard Telford ... an ongoing project designed using the permaculture ethics and design principles. The website is inspired by the work of permaculture co-originator David Holmgren and supported by David Arnold...

    Cheerio, Markos.
     
  8. Pakanohida

    Pakanohida Junior Member

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    For some, they use this ethic as an excuse for capitalism in our country, which, IMO, is exactly the opposite of what both Mollison & Holmgren envisioned.

    I am not trying to infer to others that people should not pay bills, keep a roof, feed themselves, go on occasional holiday for sanity sake. However, it does not mean you should have a Saleen 57 either or use your Permaculture farm as an excuse for doing the right thing such as that Permaculture Farm that the NY Times reported on (The former Amish farm that used to donate food but became someones private home without farming instead).

    I even find it distasteful & dishonorable to be profiting off of Permaculture without actually practicing it at all.
     
  9. Ludi

    Ludi Junior Member

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    Yeah, I'm not sure how one interprets "setting limits to population and consumption" as promoting capitalism. It is interesting to see how different people think. I say "see how they think" because I often don't understand how they think! :blush:
     
  10. Unmutual

    Unmutual Junior Member

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    I don't really see what the major differences are between the two, except for wording. They mean the same thing

    Don't have too many children

    I guess you could take that a step further and force yourself to only have one child, thereby reducing your population by 1, but that should be a personal choice. Anything more than 2 children is population increase(going with the assumption of a long-term happily married couple). If you throw in a religion that doesn't believe in birth control of any kind, or if they're from a culture that generally breeds a lot(either because of things like being a farmer..you need kids to work, or for some places where childhood mortality is high). Trying to change people's basic beliefs or upbringing can be difficult at best.

    For argument's sake, what if your system can support 8 children? Should you have 8 kids? Probably not, because that same system might not be able to support 16(assuming they get married) and later on 32(if they have 2 kids per couple). This is what you have to think about, the long term effects. For the record, I have one child and don't plan on having any more.

    Give away surplus

    Here, I think, is the main issue. Some people just don't have a clear definition of want and need. Some people are just plain greedy. Some people are hoarders(yes, I'm a string saver). Some people are just caught up in the consumer culture(and that's a hard one to ween off for some folks, and others don't even know there is an issue).

    I grow extra crops for my neighbors and coworkers. But I guess I'm creating a surplus on purpose so I can share it. I'm not sure if that's purely being nice or not.

    Conclusion

    People tend to change things to their benefit(see religions and their variants, like Christianity and Muslim for instance) or because of their environment. Trying to get everyone on track for the same purpose is impossible...it will never happen. Sure you can get a small group of people to think the same, but even then there will be small variations. Besides, everything evolves, so will permaculture. Just as long as we don't have a permaculture holy war between Holmgrenists and Mollisonites(and the orthodox versions of the two) 500 years down the road, I think everything will be okay.
     
  11. Ludi

    Ludi Junior Member

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    When I read the version "Setting limits to population and consumption: by governing our own needs, we can set resources aside to further the above principles" I do not personally interpret that to mean "give away surplus."
     
  12. Unmutual

    Unmutual Junior Member

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    I believe the other principles in this meaning are the other 2 ethics(human care and earth care). When I think about the emotion that I tie to caring, it usually means doing something for nothing(ie: giving it away for free) because there is some positive emotional bond. I personally don't think you can care for something without an emotional bond, no matter how small that emotion or bond may be.

    So I guess I make the earth a part of my family, along with other people(though I must admit, caring for specific people can be challenging). The way I was brought up, you didn't charge family members for favors, nor would you really expect a favor in return. But in a good system(being the family here), a return favor usually manifests itself even if it is years down the line.

    So I guess in a selfish sort of way, you do get something back for being nice to people(even if it's satisfaction) and in returning surplus back to the land you also get a payback(improved yields of whatever). Being nice usually results in more people being nice. And I would think being nice and having that niceness returned to you could be considered a yield too.

    That self analysis was exhausting...
     
  13. Ludi

    Ludi Junior Member

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    Thank you for sharing your interpretation. I guess, for me, I see setting resources aside as not being quite the same as "giving away surplus." I think because for me, "surplus" can be a problematic word if I take the meaning of it to be "excess amount." If I use the phrase "give away surplus" without the phrase "Setting limits to population and consumption: by governing our own needs" I might feel I don't have a surplus, I don't have an excess amount. So for me, saying the 3rd ethic is "give away surplus" is problematical, I just don't see that meaning in it, or rather, it has more meaning in it than just "give away surplus." I can set resources aside without having "surplus" IF I limit my needs, or rather, limiting my needs provides surplus. But I don't see that meaning in the phrase "give away surplus."

    Whew, hard to articulate. :blush: I personally feel there is more information in the phrase "Setting limits to population and consumption: by governing our own needs, we can set resources aside to further the above principles" than in the phrase "give away surplus."

    "Setting limits to population and consumption: by governing our own needs, we can set resources aside to further the above principles" tells us both how to have surplus and why to "give it away."
     
  14. Ludi

    Ludi Junior Member

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    "Setting limits to population and consumption: by governing our own needs, we can set resources aside to further the above principles" tells us both how to have surplus and why to "give it away" in a way that the phrase "fair share" does not. I personally find the phrase "fair share" problematic for this reason. It just doesn't say enough (to me). Others may have problems with the words "fair" and "share."
     
  15. purplepear

    purplepear Junior Member

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    burying or destroying your excess so the price remains hight is the opposite to the third ethic in my view. Fair share is misleading and limits to growth and consumption the key to this ethic. In my opinion.
     
  16. matto

    matto Junior Member

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    How widely available is Holmgren's Principles and Pathways Beyond Sustainability overseas, especially in America?

    A short quote from his introduction says

    This was the first book I saw on Permaculture, its a great read and would recommend it widely and above any other literature for people trying to grasp the whole aspect of permculture.
     
  17. Ludi

    Ludi Junior Member

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    That "Redistribution of Surplus" seems to cause some people distress because it has political overtones of "wealth redistribution." (taxation, welfare, etc)
     
  18. ecodharmamark

    ecodharmamark Junior Member

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    G'day matto

    A search of World Cat reveals it is available in 215 libraries across the USA. Likewise, it was the first book I ever read (and have subsequently re-read, many times) on the subject. Furthermore, a large component of my PDC was completed with David and Su, so I guess I would consider myself more schooled in Holmgrenian thought, rather than Mollisonian. However, that is not to say I do not use either of the two when applying the principles. That's the beauty of permaculture; the more one applies it to one's life, the more it becomes relevant to not only one's self, but to those that one comes into contact with. I have no problem with quoting either in my role as a university lecturer/tutor, but only when directly relevant to the topic being studied, as is often the case with ethics. Contrary to popular (?) USA belief (see: images below), we planners are (on the whole) an ethical lot.

    Cheerio, Markos

    [​IMG]

    Source: https://aalto.arch.ksu.edu/jwkplan/cases/god_hates_planners.jpg

    [​IMG]

    Source: https://0.tqn.com/d/architecture/1/0/H/n/urbanterrorismFlickr.jpg
     
  19. Unmutual

    Unmutual Junior Member

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    I bought mine from Amazon.com(USA)...so I guess that means it's technically all over the world! I haven't seen any permaculture books outside of Gaia's Garden in retail stores(not even a permaculture for dummies!). Principles and Pathways was the first permaculture book that I read also, spending $120 on the big book is rather a large investment in the beginning. There are a lot more books that are available to buy online, I'm just not sure why there aren't more digital versions of these books.
     
  20. S.O.P

    S.O.P Moderator

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    That's the Third Ethic and Permaculture. Unfortunately, the Earth was destroyed before anyone heard the message.

    My personal interpretation is "Don't be greedy".
     

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