Autonomy and the Politics of Food Choice: From Individuals to Communities

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

2 Scopus citations


Individuals use their capacity for autonomy to express preferences regarding food choices. Food choices are fundamental, universal, and reflect a diversity of interests and cultural preferences. Traditionally, autonomy is cast in only epistemic terms, and the social and political dimension of it, where autonomy obstruction tends to arise, is omitted. This reflects problematic limits in the Cartesian notion of the individual. Because this notion ignores context and embodiment, the external and internal constraints on autonomy that extend from social location are not considered. Therefore, reconceptions of the individual and autonomy which emphasize social location and relational interdependency are needed. To combat autonomy obstruction, individuals can appeal to community and community autonomy as a social mechanism. Communities are social groups characterized by people living in places with shared goals. Recognizing their interdependency, individuals can organize as communities in order to accomplish objectives that they cannot on their own. While community autonomy is valuable unto itself, it can also enhance individual autonomy.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)123-141
Number of pages19
JournalJournal of Agricultural and Environmental Ethics
Issue number2
StatePublished - Apr 1 2016
Externally publishedYes


  • Autonomy
  • Community
  • Environmental ethics
  • Food choice
  • Social epistemology

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Environmental Chemistry
  • History
  • Agricultural and Biological Sciences (miscellaneous)
  • Environmental Science(all)


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