Much criticism of modern agriculture focuses on agricultural research. The perspective of researchers has been too narrow, it is claimed: agricultural research has produced manifold social and environmental consequences both unintended and undesirable. We must in future come up with new conceptions of agricultural research or some new “paradigm” or better way of ensuring accountability (Busch and Lacy 1983b: 41-2, 201; Strange 1984a: 120; Saponara 1988). Such criticisms ask us to learn from the past, but while it is easy enough to look back and see what went wrong, it is not at all clear what sort of process of research agenda setting can guarantee better results in the future (Thompson and Stout 1991). It would be wrong to think that agricultural researchers of the past never thought about the social or ethical implications of their work. Indeed, much of the criticism is aimed not so much at their innocence of these implications as at the particular groups and values researchers did serve—the wrong ones, according to critics. Yet even when broad values are shared troublesome questions remain of whether (and how) explicit values can guide research and produce desired changes, through a research agenda. The history of agricultural research is full of instances where the intentions of the researchers themselves backfired. If we are to commit ourselves to research that will produce a more equitable and environmentally stable agriculture (a goal all parties would seem to endorse) can we do better?