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"Measuring Hunger"

Friday 16 October 2018
Sala Paci, Università Statale di Milano

Hunger, understood in a broad sense, is a primary mode of being. We are born hungry. We have been hungry well longer than we can remember being alive and well before gaining self-consciousness of our own pleasures. Each human, qua human, is endowed with an array of physiological and psychological states correlated with the act of eating; the satisfaction of hunger is one of the most complex and important ecological relationships in which we partake. Despite its centrality to the human condition, the philosophical investigation of hunger is scarce, marginal, and fragmented. A study of hunger contributes to at least three major themes of philosophical relevance.


(1) Hunger is arguably the most important concept in the study of malnutrition, undernutrition, and famine.

A study of hunger is hence a crucial step towards framing philosophical questions pertaining to the ethics and politics of food access and dieting.

(2) Hunger can also be approached from an existential point of view, as a defining aspect of the human condition.Through this lens, hunger raises little-explored philosophical difficulties. For instance, what sort of state is hunger – e.g. is it a perception, an emotion, a mood, none of these or all of these?

What is the relationship between hunger, desire, and pleasure?

(3) Finally, an appreciation of the complex facets of hunger is relevant in high-end gastronomy and makes a difference to the aesthetic value of a dining experience.


10:30 - 11:45

Cristina Amoretti (University of Genoa)

"Do Eating Disorders Fit the General Definition of Mental Disorder?"

11:45 - 13:00

Gyorgy Scrinis (University of Melbourne) 

"From Hunger to Obesity: Reframing the Double/Triple Burden of Malnutrition"

– Lunch Break – 

14:30 - 15:45

Kristine Beaulieu (University of Leeds)

"A Biopsychological Approach to Measuring Hunger: Theoretical Concepts of Appetite Control and Implications for Obesity"

15:45 - 17:00

Davide Serpico (University of Genoa) & Andrea Borghini (University of Milan)

"Is Obesity a Phenotype?"

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