Act Consequentialism and Inefficacy

In Anne Barnhill, Mark Budolfson & Tyler Doggett (eds.), Food, Ethics, and Society: An Introductory Text with Readings. Oxford: Oxford University Press. pp. 210-214 (2016)
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A variety of eating and purchasing practices, in particular vegetarianism, are often motivated via an appeal to their expected good consequences. Lurking in the background, however, is the question: can I really hope to make a difference via my purchases in a social world as complex and wasteful as our own? I review the evidence as it stands and conclude that there are good reasons to suspect that one probably does not make a difference directly via one's purchases. That said, there may be some related, though less direct, reasons to be vegetarian.

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Eliot Michaelson
King's College London


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