Encyclopedia of Food and Agricultural Ethics

Living Edition
| Editors: David M. Kaplan

Virtue Theory, Food, and Agriculture

  • Ronald SandlerEmail author
Living reference work entry
DOI: https://doi.org/10.1007/978-94-007-6167-4_365-2



Discussions about the ethics of food and agriculture are replete with virtue and vice language. In agricultural ethics, it is often claimed that farming promotes good character traits – e.g., self-reliance, fortitude, and patriotism – and that virtues such as diligence, ecological sensitivity, and patience are central to good agricultural practice. In food ethics discussions, it is often claimed that character traits such as temperance and compassion are crucial to healthy and ethical consumption, whereas other character traits, such as gluttony and thoughtlessness, are inimical to them. This entry focuses on what makes character traits agricultural virtues and consumptive virtues, as well as on the role of virtue within agricultural and food ethics.

Section “Character Traits, Virtue, and Virtue Theory” discusses what virtues are and what makes a character trait a virtue....


Character Trait Virtue Ethic Moral Education Nonhuman Animal Virtue Theory 
These keywords were added by machine and not by the authors. This process is experimental and the keywords may be updated as the learning algorithm improves.
This is a preview of subscription content, log in to check access.


  1. Annas, J. (1993). The morality of happiness. Oxford: Oxford University Press.Google Scholar
  2. Aristotle. (1900). The politics of Aristotle. New York: Colonial Press. Trans. B. Jowett.Google Scholar
  3. Aristotle. (1985). Nicomachean ethics. Indianapolis: Hackett. Trans. T. Irwin.Google Scholar
  4. Berry, W. (1997). The unsettling of America. Berkeley: Sierra Club Books.Google Scholar
  5. Cafaro, P. (2005). Gluttony, arrogance, greed, and apathy: An exploration of environmental vice. In R. Sandler & P. Cafaro (Eds.), Environmental virtue ethics (pp. 197–214). Lanham: Rowman and Littlefield.Google Scholar
  6. Foot, P. (2001). Natural goodness. Oxford: Oxford University Press.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  7. Gottlieb, R., & Joshi, A. (2010). Food justice. Cambridge: MIT Press.Google Scholar
  8. Hursthouse, R. (1999). On virtue ethics. Oxford: Oxford University Press.Google Scholar
  9. Jackson, W. (1985). New roots for agriculture. Lincoln: University of Nebraska Press.Google Scholar
  10. Jamieson, D. (2007). When utilitarians should be virtue theorists. Utilitas, 19, 160–183.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  11. Jefferson, T. (1984). Writings. In M. D. Peterson (Ed.), Literary classics of the United States/Library of America. New York.Google Scholar
  12. Petrini, C. (2004). Slow Food: The Case for Taste. New York: Columbia University Press.Google Scholar
  13. Pollan, M. (2007). The omnivore’s dilemma. New York: Penguin.Google Scholar
  14. Sandler, R. (2007). Character and environment. New York: Columbia University Press.Google Scholar
  15. Sandler, R. (2010). Ethical theory and the problem of inconsequentialism: Why environmental ethicists should be virtue oriented ethicists. Journal of Agricultural and Environmental Ethics, 23, 167–183.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  16. Shiva, V. (2000). Stolen harvest: The hijacking of the global food supply. Cambridge: South End Press.Google Scholar
  17. Singer, P. (1975). Animal liberation. New York: The New York Review.Google Scholar
  18. Swanton, C. (2003). Virtue ethics: A pluralistic view. Oxford: Oxford University Press.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  19. Thompson, P. (2000). Thomas Jefferson and agrarian philosophy. In P. Thompson & T. Hilde (Eds.), The agrarian roots of pragmatism (pp. 118–139). Nashville: Vanderbilt University Press.Google Scholar
  20. Thompson, P. (2010). The agrarian vision: Sustainability and environmental ethics. Lexington: University of Kentucky Press.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  21. Thoreau, H. D. (1951). Walden. New York: Bramhall House.Google Scholar
  22. Treanor, B. (2010). Environmentalism and public virtue. Journal of Agricultural and Environmental Ethics, 23, 9–28.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  23. Wenz, P. (2005). Synergistic environmental virtues: Consumerism and human flourishing. In R. Sandler & P. Cafaro (Eds.), Environmental virtue ethics (pp. 197–214). Lanham: Rowman and Littlefield. 197–214.Google Scholar

Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media Dordrecht 2013

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of PhilosophyNortheastern UniversityBostonUSA