On the Moral Status of Individual Flourishing and Food
By, Christina Warne-Friedlaender, Graduate Student in Philosophy at Binghamton University
It is uncontroversial to claim that food is a necessary condition for flourishing of animals. Food contributes to flourishing in two ways: sustenance and health. Although moral agents have choices over what they eat, they do not have a choice as to what kinds of food are required for their flourishing. Insofar as we hold a commitment to flourishing, the moral concerns regarding food should not be placed at the level of the individual, but instead at the level of food systems. While we have no control over what food contributes to our flourishing, we, as moral agents, do have control over our food systems.
Food systems are the appropriate point to locate moral questions. Equal consideration of interests of all animals still allows us to make moral claims about consumption, but such claims should not directed at individual moral agents. The issue is not whether it is moral to eat animal products, but instead whether we are morally justified in how we systematically ensure the conditions for our flourishing. Furthermore, by moralizing individual food consumption, we risk contributing to disordered eating practices. If the requirements of flourishing run counter to our moral commitments regarding food, we would require people to act contrary to their own flourishing. This is a problem insofar as we hold a commitment to a basic level of flourishing.
Christina Warne-Friedlaender is a graduate student in philosophy at Binghamton University. They specialize in phenomenology and political philosophy. Their work is primarily upon questions of agency and embodiment as they pertain to climate change and structural oppression. When not involved academic pursuits, they engage in activist work on issues of sexual assault.