Thinking Through Food
A Philosophical Introduction
  • Publication Date: November 30, 2018
  • ISBN: 9781554814312 / 1554814316
  • 200 pages; 6" x 9"
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Thinking Through Food

A Philosophical Introduction

  • Publication Date: November 30, 2018
  • ISBN: 9781554814312 / 1554814316
  • 200 pages; 6" x 9"

Thinking Through Food is a wide-ranging yet concise introduction to the many philosophical issues surrounding food production and consumption. The book begins with discussions of the metaphysics, epistemology, and aesthetics of food, then moves on to debates about the ethics of eating animals, the environmental impacts of food production, and the role of technology in our food supply, before concluding with discussions of food access, health, and justice. Throughout, the author draws on cross-disciplinary research to engage with historical debates and current events.


Chapter One: The Metaphysics of Food

  1. What is Food?
  2. What is Flavor?

Chapter Two: The Epistemology of Food

  1. Epistemology and Food: An Introduction
  2. Empiricist vs Rationalist Approaches to Knowledge
  3. Knowledge of Taste and Subjective Experience
  4. Taste and Testimony
  5. Testimony and Food
  6. Testimony and Epistemic Privilege
  7. Testimony and Trust
  8. Labels, Lies, and Bullshit
  9. Knowing Food: Knowing That or Knowing How?
  10. Skill, Virtue, and Food Choice

Chapter Three: Aesthetics

  1. Taste and Philosophy: A tendentious relationship?
  2. The Nature of Aesthetic Experience
  3. Hume and the Standard of Taste
  4. Food as Aesthetic Experience
  5. Defining Art
  6. Criticisms/Objections to Food as Art
  7. Food: Art and the Artwork
  8. Food as Art, Recipes as Property?
  9. Cuisine and Cultural Appropriation

Chapter Four: The Ethics of Eating Animals

  1. Eating Animals: The Problem of Suffering
  2. Deontological Objections to Eating Animals
  3. The Moral Status of Animals
  4. Value Pluralism
  5. Feminist and Care Ethics
  6. Practical Implications: Ought We Eat Animals?

Chapter Five: Agriculture and the Environment

  1. Environmental Impacts of Food Production: Some Facts and Figures
  2. Environmental Ethics: Anthropocentric vs Ecocentric Approaches
  3. Environmental Ethics, Agricultural Ethics
  4. Environmental Ethics Through Traditional Approaches

Chapter Six: Food and Technology

  1. The Green Revolution
  2. The Debate Over GM Foods
  3. GM Crops: Background and Uses
  4. GM Crops: Objections
  5. Disgust and Technology: Irrational Revulsion?
  6. Disgust, Rationality, and Labeling

Chapter Seven: Food, Health, and Freedom

  1. Liberty and Liberalism: The Harm Principle
  2. Liberty: Positive and Negative Conceptions
  3. Food, Freedom and Failures of Will
  4. Paternalism: What and Why
  5. Cognitive Biases, Weakness of Will, and Paternalism
  6. Food Environments and Freedom
  7. Paternalism Revisited, Autonomy Abandoned?
  8. Stigmatization, Moral Panic, and the Social Policing of Bodies
  9. Health and Food: Whose Responsibility?

Chapter Eight: Food Justice

  1. Global Hunger and Malnutrition
  2. The Utilitarian Argument for an Obligation to Aid
  3. The Lifeboat Objection—an Argument Against Aid
  4. Food: A Basic Right?
  5. Hunger: Beyond Scarcity
  6. Food Access, Food Production, and Distributive Justice

Chapter Nine: The Future of Food?

  1. The Future of Meat: Animal-Free?
  2. Local Food Movements and Alternative Food Systems
  3. Urban Agriculture
  4. Food Movements Revisited: Food, Identity, Community

Alexandra Plakias is Assistant Professor of Philosophy at Hamilton College.