Journal of Agricultural and Environmental Ethics 19 (3) (2006)
|Abstract||Regulatory bodies tend to treat people’s emotional responses towards foods as a nuisance for rational opinion-formation and decision-making. This position is thought to be supported by such evidence as: (1) people showing negative emotional responses to the idea of eating meat products from vaccinated livestock; and (2) people showing positive emotional responses to Magnum’s “7 sins” marketing campaign. Such cases are thought to support the idea that regulatory communication about foods should abstract from people’s emotional perceptions and that corporate marketing of foods should show restraint in capitalizing upon these weaknesses of the heart. This paper, on the contrary, argues that people’s emotional perceptions of foods represent valuable sources of knowledge. This argument is developed by making the dominant reception of people’s emotions intelligible by tracing its roots through the history of the Platonic paradigm. Although this paradigm has dominated the philosophical and psychological debate about emotions, the idea that emotions are sources of knowledge has recently gained force. This paper also traces the historical roots of the alternative Aristotelian paradigm. The cases of meat products from vaccinated livestock and Magnum’s 7 sins serve to illustrate this controversy. The paper concludes by showing that a neo-Platonic emphasis on the irrationality of emotions does not contribute to a fruitful discussion about implications of people’s perceptions for agricultural and food politics, whereas a neo-Aristotelian account of rational emotions could enable regulatory bodies to engage people in a fruitful process of opinion-formation and decision-making about food production and consumption|
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