A philosopher orders pizza

(With apologies to the many wonderful philosophers I know)

ring ring

“Hello, can I help you?”

“Yes, I’d like to order some pizza.”

“OK, what do you want?”

“I’ll get to that. But first, we need to consider: why order pizza at all? Why is pizza even desirable?”


“There are many other things we could do with our money, and even with the time we spend ordering and consuming pizza. What motivates the whole pizza endeavor?”


“I think the answer is clear: pizza satisfies basic human needs, such as sustenance, and even companionship, when it is the basis for a party, as it is at my place tonight.”

“OK… so what do you want on it?”

“I’ll get to that. But assuming one is in need of food, why pizza in particular? There are many cuisines in the world. Indeed, my roommate has argued persuasively that Mexican is the logical choice for this evening. And Mexican can be a very compelling choice, on the surface, since it is tasty and may be considered less pedestrian than the humble pizza.”

“Um, we don’t really have any Mexican items on the menu…”

”Good, because when we adopt the Mexican outlook, we begin to see that it can be problematic. In particular, the existence of sauce and salsa—or can salsa be considered a type of sauce? Or perhaps both salsa and sauce are particular instances of the general class of condiments? But I digress—in any case, their existence would seem to contradict the principle of not wanting to have to mop the floors after everyone stumbles home drunk at 3am.”

“OK, so… you want some pizza then?”

“Yes! Now we can truly see that pizza, no matter how unappealing it may have seemed at first, is the only logical choice. We do want pizza, after all.”

“OK, great… so what do you want on it?”

“Exactly! That is the next question. What do we want on our pizza?”

“Look buddy, I’ve got other customers waiting here, just tell me what kind of pizza you want to order.”

“I’ll get to that. But first, let me tell you what kind of pizza I’m not going to order. Obviously, I’m not going to order anchovies. But I’m not going to order pepperoni, either, because, while we have reconciled ourselves to pizza as a mundane but overall rational choice, we don’t want to be too boring. And I’m not going to order hawaiian, because, while intriguing at first, the combination of sweet and savory sets up a taste contradiction that, despite much discussion in the literature, scholars have not been able to fully resolve.“


“Given the presence of vegetarians on the guest list, we can rule out the possibility of an order consisting only of meat options (even if we don’t know that they’re going to show up tonight, we don’t know that they’re not going to show up). But that doesn’t fully rule out a mixed order, comprising multiple pizzas, in which some of the pizzas (full pizzas, or at least half pizzas) are vegetarian, while others may (and probably will) contain meat (or meat and vegetables mixed together).”


“Two large with green peppers and onions, one large meat lover’s, one large BBQ chicken, an order of breadsticks, and a 2-liter bottle of Diet Coke.”

“OK, wheh. That’ll be $53.85. You paying cash or credit?”

“I’ll get to that. But first—”


Copyright © Jason Crawford. Some rights reserved: CC BY-ND 4.0