Volume 33, 2017
Power and Public Reason
Preventing the Anti-Science Blight
A Commentary on Paul B. Thompson’s From Field to Fork: Food Ethics for Everyone
Paul Thompson’s From Field to Fork: Food Ethics for Everyone is a wonderful book, indeed accessible to a wide audience—to “everyone”—informative, provocative, wide-ranging, and infused by the author’s engaging, knowledgeable, and fair voice. After summarizing what I take to be a few of the appealing general features of the book I will attempt to articulate a genuine puzzle that the book raises for me. The puzzle derives primarily from my personal response to reading chapter 5, “Livestock Welfare and the Ethics of Producing Meat,” and from working through what are, for me, the two most intriguing chapters in the book: chapter 7, “Green Revolution Food Production and Its Discontents,” and the final chapter, “Once More, This Time with Feeling: Ethics, Risk, and the Future of Food.” The puzzle concerns a cluster of issues: the limits of liberal tolerance, the suspicion of (any or all) authority, the risks of ignoring science, and what I will call, inspired by Linda Zagzebski, a desire for epistemic self-respect. The puzzle, I must insist, is a genuine puzzle for me and is not a criticism of Thompson’s book. Indeed, the book has helped me to become clear about the components of the puzzle.