On the Importance of Beauty and Taste

Royal Institute of Philosophy Supplement 92:229-252 (2022)
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We have all heard people say ‘Beauty is only skin-deep’, or ‘Beauty is in the eye of the beholder’: our culture promulgates a conception of beauty as subjective, superficial, and independent of other values like moral goodness or knowledge and understanding. Yet our taste in beauty affects many aspects of our lives, sometimes playing a decisive – and often detrimental – role in areas as wide-ranging as our identity and self-esteem, our morally salient decisions, and our relationship to the environment. This presents us with a choice: we can either ignore the facts – leaving our conception of beauty unchanged and allowing our taste to influence much in our lives while either not acknowledging such influence, or perhaps seeking to reprimand it; or we can take the power of beauty seriously and seek to harmonise our taste with our values. I argue for the latter option and propose a way of bringing beauty and taste in line with what matters to us using the notion of functional beauty. Adopting this strategy, I suggest, can have a powerful – and positive – impact on our self-esteem and wellbeing, our relationship to others, as well as our attitudes towards the environment.



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Panos Paris
Cardiff University

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Aesthetic Injustice.Bjørn Hofmann - forthcoming - Journal of Business Ethics:1-13.

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References found in this work

Moral Beauty, Inside and Out.Ryan P. Doran - 2021 - Australasian Journal of Philosophy 99 (2):396-414.
Thick and Perceptual Moral Beauty.Ryan P. Doran - 2022 - Australasian Journal of Philosophy:1-18.
The halo effect: Evidence for unconscious alteration of judgments.Richard E. Nisbett & Timothy D. Wilson - 1977 - Journal of Personality and Social Psychology 35 (4):250-256.
The Metaphysics of Beauty.Nick Zangwill - 2001 - Ithaca: Cornell University Press.

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