Consumerism, Aristotle and Fantastic Mr. Fox

Film-Philosophy 19 (1):249-269 (2015)
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Wes Anderson's Fantastic Mr. Fox is about Mr. Fox's attempt to flourish as both a wild animal and a consumer. As such, this film raises some interesting and difficult questions about what it means to be a member of a certain kind, what is required to flourish as a member of that kind, and how consumerism either promotes or inhibits such flourishing. In this paper I use Fantastic Mr. Fox as an entry point into an examination of the relationship between consumerism and human flourishing. More specifically, I use this film as a way to engage with a worry that many philosophers have expressed: namely, the worry that consumerism threatens the identity of individual consumers. I begin by bringing certain of Mr. Fox's worries into contact with an Aristotelian account of flourishing. I then press Aristotle's account further by arguing that consumerism threatens one's ability to flourish as a human being because it tends to discourage one from engaging in distinctly human activities. I then conclude by looking to Aristotle and Mr. Fox for some ways to respond to this threat. My ultimate goals are, first, to shed light on certain dangers that are associated with consumerism, and second, to indicate how people living in consumerist societies might nonetheless overcome those dangers.
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