252.food+course.syllabus.2011.03.20 - Eating Right The...

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Page 1 of 7 Eating Right: The Ethics of Food Choices and Food Policy Philosophy 252 Spring 2011 (Version of March 20, 2011) Instructor Andy Egan [email protected] Office & Office Hours: 1 Seminary Place (College Ave Campus) Office 001 Office hours W 2-3, F 1-2, and by appointment. TAs Tobias Wilsch (Sections 01 and 07) Jennifer Wang (Sections 02 and 08) Alexander Morgan (Sections 03 and 09) Richard Dub (Sections 04 and 10) Overview Our choices about what to eat are, more or less universally, expressive of some sort of value. Some are expressive of our aesthetic values: of our judgments about which foods are or are not tasty, appealing, delicious, revolting, etc. Some are expressive of our moral values: of our judgments about which foods we are permitted, obligated, or forbidden to eat. Some are expressive of cultural or religious values: of our judgments about which foods are culturally or religiously permitted or forbidden, high- or low-status, the sorts of things that we eat or the sorts of things that they eat, etc. All of these sorts of values are tremendously important to the ways we live our lives, and it’s worth having a careful look at the sorts of values that inform our food choices. This will involve us in a number of important moral issues. We’ll investigate such questions as: Which sorts of entities are deserving of moral consideration? What sorts of harms is it permissible to cause, to which sorts of entities, and for what sorts of reasons? What sorts of moral obligations, if any, do we have toward non-human animals? What are the environmental and social consequences of various sorts of eating habits? To what extent does the presence of those sorts of consequences generate moral obligations to adopt (or to abandon) the relevant eating habits? What’s the moral (and policy) significance of the cultural importance of particular culinary traditions, and the importance of cultural group membership to individual well-being? We’ll look at questions both about individual food choices and about food policy – at questions both about what we should, as individuals, decide to eat, and at what actions we, as a society, ought to take in order to influence how our food is grown, processed, marketed, sold, and consumed.
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Page 2 of 7 Course Goals and Structure One aim of this class is to give you the opportunity to think carefully about the arguments for and against a variety of different views about what kinds of food choices to make. One part of this is acquiring some familiarity with the arguments for and against positions such as vegetarianism or veganism, or restricting one’s diet to locally or organically produced foods. Another part of this is subjecting these arguments to careful critical scrutiny, and seeing how they stand up. More generally, we’ll be looking at how to go about reasoning about difficult moral issues.
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252.food+course.syllabus.2011.03.20 - Eating Right The...

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