CPT-20803 Food Ethics


Credits 3.00

Teaching methodContact hours
Independent study
Course coordinator(s)prof. dr. MF Verweij
Lecturer(s)prof. dr. MF Verweij
Examiner(s)prof. dr. MF Verweij

Language of instruction:



Food is central in our lives. Not only as a basic need in a healthy life, but also as a core element in any good life: can one imagine a good life without the social aspects of sharing a meal, or the enjoyment of favoured dished? Values are paramount in our social food practices, but also in the scientific and agricultural practices that enable us to buy, consume and share food. Values such as health, life, pleasure, sociability, safety, justice, or cultural identity. But food practices also raise value conflicts: issues with global justice and fair trade, intellectual property, responsibility for unhealthy diets, animal welfare, nature preservation, protection of indigenous cultures, etc. As scientist, professional, entrepreneur or policy worker you will be confronted with ethical dilemmas in your own work, or you will be confronted with the fact that your expertise is relevant to societal controversies in relation to food science, food production, trade and consumption. You will need to be able to recognize these issues, and to respond to them in a reasonable way. Responding to ethical problems implies: being sensitive to the concerns of stakeholders, capable to formulate relevant (normative) questions, explore and test various arguments, and, finally, formulate ethical judgments, decisions or policies that can be reasonably defended to others. This course is meant to introduce you to various ethical problems in relation to food and food production, to the core values and concepts that are central in these problems (e.g. quality of life, fairness, and responsibility) and to normative ethical theories that can help to clarify conflicts. You to develop basic skills that are needed to deal with ethical problems in relation to food in your future career.

Learning outcomes:

After successful completion of this course students have shown they are capable to:
- identify and describe ethical problems with respect to food and food production;
- formulate empirical and normative questions in relation to such problems;
- understand and apply ethical concepts (e.g. quality of life, responsibility, fairness, animal welfare) and theories (consequence-, duty- and virtue oriented approaches);
- presenting and analysing ethical arguments as put forward in debates about specific moral problems in relation to food;
- offer a structured ethical discussion of a practical moral problem in relation to food practices and policies.


The whole course is set up in such a way that all students will be able to submit their final paper in time.
Compulsory activities are marked with *).
- preparing for the lectures (short assignments on discussion board and journal, and studying literature) *);
- attending lectures and participating in discussions;
- doing exercises (discussions of problems);
- making an outline for a paper *);
- writing a short (500 words) paper in response to a specific ethical question, taking the course literature into account;
- searching and reading relevant literature on a specific ethical problem *);
- writing a paper on a self-chosen problem about foodproduction, trade or consumption. Paper length: 1500- 2000 words;*);
- giving feedback on the work of other students*);
- revising the paper on the basis of feedback *).


- Written assignment (30%);
- Final essay (70%).


Compulsory literature and materials are available on Blackboard.
Students are expected to search and study additional literature for their paper.

Restricted Optional for: MMEManagement, Economics and Consumer StudiesMSc2MO, 5MO
MIDInternational Development StudiesMSc2MO, 5MO