PHIL 196 - First Year Seminar
Section: 005 Eating Right: The Ethics and Aesthetics of Food
Term: FA 2008
Subject: Philosophy (PHIL)
Department: LSA Philosophy
Requirements & Distribution:
Honors, FYSem
Advisory Prerequisites:
Enrollment restricted to first-year students, including those with sophomore standing.
May not be repeated for credit.
Primary Instructor:

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. Both 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.

We'll start with, and focus primarily on, issues about the ethics of food. In particular, we'll begin by considering the arguments for and against a variety of views about which foods it is permissible to eat. We'll examine arguments for vegetarian and vegan diets, for eating organic, for eating local, and for restricting oneself to only humanely raised and slaughtered meat.

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?

We'll close by considering some issues in aesthetics:

  • To what extent are our aesthetic judgments about food objective?
  • What does it mean, exactly, for such a judgment to be objective?
  • What are aesthetic judgments about, exactly?

PHIL 196 - First Year Seminar
Schedule Listing
003 (SEM)
6Enrollment Management
MW 2:30PM - 4:00PM
005 (SEM)
2LSA Hnrs Y1
6Enrollment Management
TuTh 10:00AM - 11:30AM
006 (SEM)
TuTh 2:30PM - 4:00PM
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