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Eating Right: The Ethics of Food Choices and Food Policy
(Version of March 20, 2011)
Office & Office Hours:
1 Seminary Place (College Ave Campus)
Office hours W 2-3, F 1-2, and by appointment.
Tobias Wilsch (Sections 01 and 07)
Jennifer Wang (Sections 02 and 08)
Alexander Morgan (Sections 03 and 09)
Richard Dub (Sections 04 and 10)
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.
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
eat or the sorts
of things that
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
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
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