In Dave Monroe & Fritz Allhoff (eds.), Food & Philosophy: Eat, Think, and Be Merry. Blackwell (2007)

Matthew J. Brown
University of Texas at Dallas
Common wisdom includes expressions such as “there is no accounting for taste'’ that express a widely-accepted subjectivism about taste. We commonly say things like “I can’t stand anything with onions in it'’ or “Oh, I’d never eat sushi,'’ and we accept such from our friends and associates. It is the position of this essay that much of this language is actually quite unacceptable. Without appealing to complete objectivism about taste, I will argue that there are good reasons to think that there will be fairly wide agreement between experienced palates on aesthetic preferences, and that this result will not necessarily agree with unexperienced and unreflective opinions on the matter. Subjectivism about aesthetic preference can be taken to justify the practice of picking eating (after all, who is better to say what I’ll enjoy than me?), while the position of this paper is that such picky eating is a moral failing. To be a picky eater is to have a significant lack of openness to new experiences. It involves an irresponsible level of fallibilism with respect to taste. Never venturing into new aesthetic landscapes leads to a sort of repetitiveness, which in turn leads to a life full of blandness and banality.
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