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Knox Philosophy Students Debate Ethics of Food During Two-Day Symposium

Philosophy of Food

The Knox College philosophy department hosted a two-day symposium titled “Philosophy of Food” on April 13-14, where six students explained their papers and defended their theses to the audience. 

Knox welcomed Aaron Meskin, the University of Georgia's head of philosophy, to open the event. Meskin delivered a keynote address about the aesthetics of cafes, coffeehouses, pubs, and bars. On the second day, the students presented their research in front of a live audience, who actively participated in engaging discussions by raising questions about the work presented. 

Brandon Polite, associate professor and chair of philosophy, explained that the purpose of the symposium was to give his students the opportunity to practice public speaking, while also celebrating their work with the rest of the Knox College community. “Prior to COVID-19, we would send seniors to undergraduate conferences at different institutions to present their research,” he said. “While that is an amazing and enriching opportunity, I also want their work to be celebrated and recognized by our community. It is impressive to see how the students worked on a paper for six weeks and focused on what they were interested in by exploring different avenues through some of the material we covered in class.” 

A presentation by Adam Gadiel ’24 discussed the doctrines of how foods are classified.“It was a different experience from what I am used to,” Gadiel explained. “It is one thing to analyze literature, but a whole different experience writing and critically endorsing your own thesis. I was a little skeptical about answering questions, but now that I am done, I’m pretty proud of how things went. ” 

Charlie Ericsen ’23, whose presentation analyzed the role food plays in our identities and emotions, agreed. “I think both writing the paper and composing the presentation have helped me grow a great deal academically,” he said. “I was drawn to the emotional aspect of food from the beginning, but because there is so much out there, it took me a while to put everything together. The next challenge was turning a 15-page paper into a 15-minute talk. There was so much to say, but to really distill the key points and explanations was essential and I am glad I had the opportunity to do so.” 

Caroline Klink ’23 focused on the ethics of lab-grown meat and the idea of cannibalism, elaborating on their learning experience from the symposium. “It was a great way to build my research skills and employ discipline,” they said. “When you are working on something for so long, you have to constantly go back and revise the material. To do so, it is vital to stay focused and be determined. Putting together all the information and presenting at the symposium really helped put that into perspective and was definitely a great learning opportunity.” 

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Printed on Sunday, April 21, 2024