Reasoning Claims for More Sustainable Food Consumption: A Capabilities Perspective

Journal of Agricultural and Environmental Ethics 28 (3):455-477 (2015)
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This paper examines how employing the capabilities approach in conceptualizing sustainable development allows reasoning and specifying claims for more sustainable lifestyles. In doing so, it focuses on the example of food consumption because it constitutes an ‘sustainability hotspot’ as well as a paradigmatic example for the tensions between individual lifestyles on the one hand and societal consequences of such lifestyles on the other. The arguments developed in the paper allow rebutting two common objections against claims for individual changes in food consumption. These are, first, that more sustainable food consumption constitutes a societal issue so that asking individuals to behave more sustainably is unnecessary. The second objection argues that such claims infringe on the individuals’ freedom of choice and morally overburden individuals. I first outline a conception of sustainable development that draws on the capabilities approach. Subsequently, I develop a more specific account of what is meant by more sustainable food production and consumption. Finally, I draw on this account to rebut the above-mentioned objections against claims for more sustainable food consumption



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