Food Policy and Political Theory

Food Policy and Political Theory


The recent horsemeat scandal has raised a number of moral and political questions regarding the state regulation of food consumption in contemporary polities. Similarly, the Academy of Medical Royal Colleges’ recent call for heavy taxes on fizzy drinks and for the partial banning of junk food advertising has elicited once again public debate on whether the state has the right to interfere with people’s (unhealthy) eating habits and whether such intervention would be paternalistic, as many often claim. It is surprising that, in spite of the constant surfacing of these and other food-related issues in public debate, political theorists have dedicated little if any attention to the normative problems these issues generate. There is certainly a vast literature which examines state paternalism in relation to other activities such as smoking and alcohol consumption. There is also, of course, an established body of literature concerning the ethical aspects of food consumption, especially in relation to animal rights (e.g. factory farming). However, less attention has been paid so far to the normative questions concerning whether and why the state ought to regulate food consumption at various levels. The aim of this workshop is therefore to fill this gap and provide a platform for political theorists interested in this subject area to present and develop their ideas.


Papers from the perspective of normative political theory are welcome on any of the following topics:

  • State ban of unhealthy foods/drinks
  • State taxation of unhealthy foods/drinks
  • State ban/regulation of food advertising
  • State regulation of food packaging and labelling
  • Food hygiene and safety legislation
  • State regulation of food production and processing (this may include, for example, issues concerning animal rights or those regarding cultural exemptions for certain religious slaughter practices)

If you would like to present a paper at this workshop, please send a 500-word abstract (or a full paper) to by 15 May 2013.

Panel Convenor:

Matteo Bonotti (Edinburgh)



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