Dueling Land Ethics: Uncovering Agricultural Stakeholder Mental Models to Better Understand Recent Land Use Conversion

Benjamin L. Turner, Melissa Wuellner, Timothy Nichols, Roger Gates

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

10 Scopus citations


The aim of this paper is to investigate how alternative land ethics of agricultural stakeholders may help explain recent land use changes. The paper first explores the historical development of the land ethic concept in the United States and how those ethics have impacted land use policy and use of private lands. Secondly, primary data gathered from semi-structured interviews of farmers, ranchers, and influential stakeholders are then analyzed using stakeholder analysis methods to identify major factors considered in land use decisions, priorities of factors of each group, and to define relevant mental models describing each group’s view of the land ethic concept. Results show that these stakeholder groups prioritize land use factors qualitatively differently and possess strikingly different land ethics. It is concluded that shifts in stakeholder land ethics have contributed to recent land use changes. Lastly, we discuss how current agricultural policy sends mixed signals about preferred land use and the potential ramifications based on the different land ethics we’ve described.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)831-856
Number of pages26
JournalJournal of Agricultural and Environmental Ethics
Issue number5
Publication statusPublished - Oct 7 2014



  • Land ethic
  • Land use
  • Mental models
  • Stakeholder analysis

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Environmental Chemistry
  • History
  • Agricultural and Biological Sciences (miscellaneous)
  • Environmental Science(all)

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