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Displaying: 1-10 of 16 documents

1. Social Philosophy Today: Volume > 30
Jeff Gauthier, Introduction
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i. social philosophy and the farm
2. Social Philosophy Today: Volume > 30
Paul B. Thompson, The GMO Quandary and What It Means for Social Philosophy
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Agricultural crops developed using the tools of genetic engineering (so-called “GMOs”) have become socially institutionalized in three ways that substantially compromise the inherent potential of plant transformation tools. The first is that when farming depends upon debt finance, farmers find themselves in a competitive situation such that efficiency-enhancing technology fuels a trend of bankruptcy and increasing scale of production. As efficiency increasing tools, GMOs are embedded in controversial processes of social change in rural economies. The United States, at least, has chosen not to undertake policy interventions to slow or reverse this trend. The second institutionalization of GMOs is found in the way that agricultural science has become divided between two camps, one focused on efficiency and total global production, the other focused on maintaining soil and water ecosystems in the face of both population growth and climate change. GMOs have been strongly supported by the first camp and regarded as irrelevant (at best) to the goals of the second. Finally, GMOs have become symbolic markers in the global debate over neoliberal institutions for trade and the protection of intellectual property. While there may be agronomic arguments for favoring GMO technology, the way that it has become situated in each of these social debates insures that it will be subject to strong opposition without regard to its biological risks and potential benefits.
3. Social Philosophy Today: Volume > 30
Neil Hibbert, Lisa F. Clark, Democratic Legitimacy, Risk Governance, and GM Food
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The use of Genetic Modification (GM) in food is the subject of deep political disagreement. Much of the disagreement involves different perceptions of the kinds of risks posed by pursuing GM food, and how these are to be tolerated and regulated. As a result, a primary institutional site of GM food politics is regulatory agencies tasked with risk assessment and regulation. Locating GM food politics in administrative areas of governance regimes produces unique challenges of democratic legitimacy, conventionally secured through legislative channels. In particular, debate over the ends of a society’s policy on GM food inevitably continues in these institutional locations, despite conventional instrumental understandings of administrative legitimacy resting on effective application of ‘ends-means’ norms. This paper assesses the two major regulatory frameworks currently applied to GM food—the ‘precautious’ (associated with European jurisdictions) and ‘proof of harm’ (associated with North American jurisdictions) approaches—and presents their respective limits in securing the procedural and substantive dimensions of the legitimacy of administrative deference in democratic societies. On the basis of these criticisms, a synthesized and emergent approach—‘experiential precaution’—is presented as having the resources to deepen the legitimacy of risk governance institutions in the case of GM food. It is characterized by deepened participatory practices of negotiated rulemaking and inclusion of further substantive requirements in approval criteria.
4. Social Philosophy Today: Volume > 30
Susan Dieleman, Urban Agriculture, the Idyllic Farmer, and Stupid Knowing
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In “Farming Made Her Stupid,” Lisa Heldke suggests that those who inhabit the metrocentric position participate in the marginalization of rural people and farmers through a process of “stupidification.” Rural people and farmers become “stupid,” a status that, on Heldke’s account, is worse than ignorant because “stupid people” are thought to be constitutionally incapable of knowing the right sorts of things (urban things) because they know the wrong sorts of things (rural things). It seems reasonable, I suggest in this paper, to think that contemporary urban agriculture movements can serve to mitigate the harms which Heldke argues arise from practices of stupidification. However, I argue that, insofar as such movements rely on and perpetuate the image of the Idyllic Farmer—an image constituted by early, romantic versions of agrarianism—they cannot serve this function. This is because the Idyllic Farmer, which is to agricultural ethics as the Ecological Indian is to environmental ethics, is both descriptively and prescriptively problematic. As such, any urban agricultural movement that takes this image as its guide—which, I argue, some important elements of the movement do—will not help to undermine stupidification and the harms it causes.
5. Social Philosophy Today: Volume > 30
Shane J. Ralston, The Pragmatic Pyramid: John Dewey on Gardening and Food Security
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Despite the minimal attention paid by philosophers to gardening, the activity has a myriad of philosophical implications—aesthetic, ethical, political, and even edible. The same could be said of community food security and struggles for food justice. Two of gardening’s most significant practical benefits are that it generates communal solidarity and provides sustenance for the needy and undernourished during periods of crisis. In the twentieth century, large-scale community gardening in the U.S. and Canada coincided with relief projects during war-time and economic downturn. More recently, small-scale gardening projects have emerged in schools, blighted urban areas, and communities of activists committed to increasing food security and resisting neo-liberal city planning policies. It is therefore surprising that pragmatist philosophers, who typically work at the nexus of theory and practice, have remained relatively silent about the relationship between gardening and food security. If more were to take up the challenge, they would find considerable guidance from several contemporary scholars working in diverse disciplines, from cultural geography to community studies, who explore the topic in a number of non-philosophical, though equally effective and imaginative, ways (e.g., ethnographic and action research). In this paper, I propose a tentative pragmatist model for understanding how gardens make our food system more secure—a model inspired by John Dewey’s writings on school gardening, which I call the pragmatic pyramid.
ii. eating, food choices, and justice
6. Social Philosophy Today: Volume > 30
Lisa Heldke, Jens Thomsen, Two Concepts of Authenticity
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This paper explores two apparently-unrelated forms of authenticity. One, “restaurant authenticity,” is a subcategory of the larger category of authentic objects, focused specifically on food and especially on ethnic cuisines. “Personal authenticity” refers to a set of traits or qualities in oneself. Contrary to appearances, I argue that the two forms of authenticity intertwine in ways that merit thoughtful attentiveness. I suggest that approaching the question of the authenticity of a cuisine with an attitude of flexibility  and responsiveness can, in turn, constitute an activity that cultivates personal authenticity, understood as “wholehearted living.” As Diana Meyers might put it, it is itself a practice of authenticity.
7. Social Philosophy Today: Volume > 30
Joan McGregor, Eat Right: Eating Local or Global?
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In this paper, I will consider the moral considerations surrounding our food choices, including whether those choices are sustainable. Sustainability means preserving ecological integrity for current and future generations, and includes cultural sustainability which embodies values like justice and care for current and future generations as well as non-human animals. I will explore the widely accepted view that buying local is morally superior. In considering the moral reasons for buying local, I will investigate Peter Singer’s arguments against buying local, which he supports by our duty to aid those suffering immediate harm. Singer’s arguments force us to examine our duties to aid those in developing nations versus duties to support local economies. I will argue that our duties in regard to food purchases are complex and impinge on multiple values, including supporting local communities, ecological integrity, and concern for fair global food practices.
8. Social Philosophy Today: Volume > 30
Erinn Gilson, Vote With Your Fork? Responsibility for Food Justice
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As popular food writers and activists urge consumers to express their social, political, and ethical commitments through their food choices, the imperative to ‘vote with your fork’ has become a common slogan of emerging food movements in the US. I interrogate the conception of responsibility embedded in this dictate, which has become a de facto model for how to comport ourselves ethically with respect to food. I argue that it implicitly endorses a narrow and problematic understanding of responsibility. To contextualize this claim, I utilize Iris Marion Young’s critique of a “liability model” of responsibility to demonstrate that voting with one’s fork is insufficient as model for taking responsibility for food-related injustices. Instead, I suggest that Young’s social connection model of responsibility is best suited for taking stock of responsibility for food and agriculture related injustices since they are structural and systemic ones. I conclude that although consumer choices and purchases may be important dimensions of our conduct with respect to food and eating, imagining responsibility to be centered on this type of conduct—consumer behavior—is detrimental to attempts to develop a more just food system.
9. Social Philosophy Today: Volume > 30
Andrew J. Pierce, The Power and Politics of Disgust: Toward a Critical Theory of Food
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This essay argues, drawing from both philosophical and scientific work on disgust, that since disgust is a universal human emotion with roots in evolutionary adaptation, and since capitalism inevitably produces disgusting food, a critique of capitalism based upon the category of disgust and centered on the food system may be more practically effective than traditional critiques of capitalism. This critique forms the basis of what I call a critical theory of food.
iii. justice, economics, and food activism
10. Social Philosophy Today: Volume > 30
Sally J. Scholz, Women and Whiskey: Conspiratorial Vices
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The pairing of “whiskey” and “women” may at times be seen as an instance of what I call conspiratorial vices. Conspiratorial vices, I argue, are phenomena that, when working together, inform each other in a way that sets their content. Taken individually, the elements of the conspiracy are, at best, ambiguous with regard to their moral status. The conjoining of the concepts yields the status as “vice” and points to something deemed a threat to the social fabric. Through the use of two cases, I examine possible ways that this instance of conspiratorial vice might be seen as a multifaceted political tool that both contributes to oppression and creates a site for resistance.