Join us for a guest lecture by Dr. Lisa Heldke (Gustavus Adolphus University) as she considers how we understand moral agency when biologists show that human choosers are not solitary beings uniquely capable of choosing, but instead are complex collections of organisms, such as bacteria, that also exhibit choice?
This is the second lecture in a three-part series on the philosophy of food.
The European Enlightenment bequeathed to us a notion of the human being as a solitary, self-sufficient agent--the only being truly capable of making independent choices. This notion of human being grounds a conception of moral agency: if you're capable of choice, you're responsible for your choices. That capacity to choose also gives you the right to certain moral protection--immunity to being eaten by other moral agents, for instance. (Some arguments about whether it is okay to eat animals and/or which animals it is okay to eat rest on this notion, for instance.)
What happens to our understanding of moral agency when biologists show that, in fact, choice is a very rudimentary capacity--one that even bacteria are able to exhibit--and that humans are best understood not as solitary and independent beings but as holobionts, complex collections of organisms working (sometimes together, sometimes at cross purposes)? If we are choosers stuffed with choosers, how are we to make sense of our moral choices?
**Masks and proof of vaccination are required at this event. Oxy students, staff, and faculty may present Oxy ID to satisfy the proof of vaccination requirement.
About Lisa Heldke
Dr. Heldke is a Professor of Philosophy and Director of The Nobel Conference at Gustavus Adolphus College.