Beyond Modernization: Development Cooperation as Normative Practice

in Philosophia Reformata
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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.

Beyond Modernization: Development Cooperation as Normative Practice

in Philosophia Reformata



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  • View in gallery

    Simplified overview of main (institutional) actors involved with agricultural development cooperation and the main interactions among them. Black ovals represent actors primarily involved with financial background support (donor level), although expertise and networks (for instance, embassies) or legitimacy (in the case of the relationship between national governments and local government agencies) can also be part of the support. Solid blue ovals represent actors at the intermediate level that work directly with the intended beneficiaries, represented with the blue dotted oval. The red oval represents private companies, which are often transnational. The orange oval represents international and local knowledge organizations that typically have a supportive role in the whole development cooperation conglomerate. Note that the many interactions with knowledge institutes and firms—the latter also being called consultants—are not depicted for the sake of clarity


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