Sustainable diets and state policy: Balancing the promotion of sustainable diets against individual and group freedoms
Lead supervisor: Dr Alasdair Cochrane, Politics
Co-supervisor(s): Dr Chris Bennett, Philosophy
Deadline: Thursday 23 February 2017
Applications for this project have now closed.
There is growing consensus that the increasing adoption of the ‘Western’ diet across the world raises serious ethical concerns. The huge expansion in the global consumption of meat, eggs and dairy has been facilitated by massive increases in intensive forms of animal production, which cause serious environmental problems, as well as other ethical concerns relating to: animal welfare, human health, food security, cultural integrity and individual livelihoods.
However, while these ethical problems are well-established, this PhD project is devoted to the more neglected political question of what can legitimately be done about them. If the spread of the Western diet is to be slowed and reversed, how might that legitimately be done, both at the domestic and international level? Fundamentally, the project asks how the promotion of ‘sustainable diets’ ought to be balanced against individual and group freedom.
This PhD is concerned with marrying debates about sustainable diets with debates relating to the legitimate scope of political action. It will do so by focusing its analysis around two broad areas of enquiry: the domestic and the international:
1. The Legitimate Scope of Domestic Dietary Policy:
- Can the state legitimately coerce people to follow certain diets?
- Given the social, political and imaginative investment individuals and cultures make in food, is diet something that in fact requires special protection from interference?
- If the state cannot coerce citizens to adopt ethical consumption patterns, can it ‘nudge’ them, through taxes or other means, to improve their choices?
- Does the state have a duty to ensure that consumers know not only where their food comes from, but also the means and consequences of the way it is produced?
- In multicultural countries, is the state the proper authority to transform diets, or should that power be vested in more local agencies?
2. The Legitimate Scope of International Dietary Policy:
- Are the food production and consumption practices of individual sovereign states something that external agents can legitimately interfere with?
- Is it unjustified and hypocritical for wealthy states and their representatives to interfere with the spread of the ‘globalised diet’?
Keywords: food ethics, political philosophy, political theory, ethics, sustainability, diet
Subject areas: Philosophy, Political Science and International Relations, Law
This four-year studentship will be fully funded at Home/EU or international rates. Support for travel and consumables (RTSG) will also be made available at standard rate of £2,627 per annum, with an additional one-off allowance of £1,000 for a computer in the first year. Students will receive an annual stipend of £17,336.