Argumenta – Journal of Analytic Philosophy

Unjust Food Systems and Applied Mereology [Special Issue]

Topics: Epistemology, Metaphysics, Ontology
Keywords: Alternative food systems, Food systems, Food transparency., Globalized opacity


Conventional food systems are highly complex entities with numerous components that span the globe. Having an overabundance of parts creates ‘globalized opacity’, a condition wherein the sheer number of parts makes it incredibly challenging to see how these parts fit together. In turn, people cannot see how these systems help create and perpetuate social injustices in select instances. With this notion in mind, it should be no surprise that numerous issues require mitigation. Gaining a clear view of the nature of such problems could improve how food-justice researchers understand the complexity involved in the issues that plague food systems, which could alleviate harm. One way to assist in such efforts is to employ an applied-mereological approach to identify ways to reduce the number of parts and replace parts that are commonly associated with injustices. This paper moves in that direction, revealing how an applied-mereological approach can help us address these issues and support alternative parts that could help produce desired outcomes.

Although a worldwide network connects multiple parts of conventional food systems to facilitate international commerce, this process produces ‘globalized opacity’. This term means that there is an overabundance of components and that there are often long distances between many of them. Due to this situation, most people are unable to fully see and know about the composition of a conventional food system. Somewhat paradoxically, the parts that make it feasible for these components to be noticeably disconnected, namely transportation and logistics—are also pieces of the food-system puzzle.


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