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DOI: 10.4324/9780415249126-N101-1
Version: v1,  Published online: 2000
Retrieved June 22, 2024, from

Article Summary

Much human time and attention goes into the production, preparation and consumption of food; hence it is only to be expected that a number of philosophical issues should be connected with it. Recently food has attracted specific philosophical attention, but there have always been philosophical debates with a bearing on food. One such is that concerning the pleasures of eating and drinking, where we find traditional attempts (mainly stemming from Plato) to show that such pleasures must be inferior ones. Another arises from the aesthetic claims sometimes made on behalf of food: can food, or cookery, ever be an art-form, and if so then in virtue of what similarities with central, less contentious forms of art? Further discussion investigates the symbolic and ritual significance of the preparation and consumption of food, its religious and social meanings.

Moral questions arise: is there a duty to help feed the hungry of the Third World, and if so how far does this duty extend? Are there duties of proper nutrition towards oneself, and is there a compelling moral case against eating meat? Two virtues have a close connection to food: temperance (which can be seen as an Aristotelian mean between gluttony and and extreme asceticism) in the consumption of it and hospitableness in the provision of sharing it.

Citing this article:
Telfer, Elizabeth. Food, 2000, doi:10.4324/9780415249126-N101-1. Routledge Encyclopedia of Philosophy, Taylor and Francis,
Copyright © 1998-2024 Routledge.

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