M.A. Matthias Kerr


Sustainable consumption patterns and the ambivalence of export-oriented agricultural policies: a eudemonistic approach to reinforce eco-sufficiency, global solidarity and the right to food (working title)

The research project aims to discuss the hypothesis that the global agribusiness in its current mode (‘liberalisation of world trade’) endangers the development of local markets in rural areas, the lives of peasants and the human right to food. The project will analyse the ambivalence of agricultural commodities like coffee, chocolate, cotton, fruits and vegetables that are solely cultivated for global markets (‘cash crops’) although (or because), those countries are suffering from hunger, poverty and malnutrition. In the global north, those ‘cash crops’ are consumed as luxury foods and as such they are not vital; in contrast, the global south essentially depends on the production patterns, the consumption and value added by global markets to secure income, to procure foreign currency and to repay debts. Therefore, different agricultural commodities will be compared along the entire value chain regarding the role of intermediaries such as NGO’s, which are or could be particularly relevant for markets in the global north just as well as the domestic markets in the south.

The normative scope of the project comprises an ethical framework compulsory for any social transformation approaches related to food habits and sustainable food supply. Hence, the project will discuss ‘diets’ or ‘food habits’ as culturally shaped constructs, as ways of living embedded within social structures. In this regard, we must discuss unsustainable lifestyles (especially consumption decisions) not under concerns of privacy, but at least to a certain extent as part of a constructive public debate (‘consumption of public goods’). To analyse consumption patterns, more precisely ‘food habits’, from the perspective of global change, we need a theory that is capable of being able to anticipate the subjective as well as objective dimension of lifestyle choices; which is context-sensitive, when it comes to environmental matters – the objective of the research project is to develop this theory as a virtue oriented approach, integrated into the framework of a social theory (Hegels philosophy of right) and a political theory (Habermas’ discourse theory of deliberative democracy) in order to give rise to a not just utopian prospect of a political practice, but to a groundwork for further social transformation researches regarding the right to food.


Work Experience

Research Interests

  • Moral philosophy, bioethics, environmental ethics
  • Ethics and Sustainable Development (esp. Global change, agriculture and food, preservation of nature)
  • Nature ethics and nature philosophy
  • Theories of the good life, of justice and responsibility
  • Political philosophy