Ethical Theory and Moral Practice 23 (5):915-929 (2020)

Our romantic lives are influenced, to a large extent, by our perceptions of physical attractiveness – and the societal beauty standards that shape them. But what if we could free our desires from this fixation on looks? Science fiction writer Ted Chiang has explored this possibility in a fascinating short story – and scientific developments might, in the future, move it beyond the realm of fiction. In this paper, I lay out the prudential case for using “attraction-expanding technology,” and then consider it from a moral point of view. Using the technology would, in one respect, be morally good: it would benefit those whom prevailing beauty standards marginalize. But attraction-expanding technology also raises a moral concern – one that can be cast in non-harm-based and harm-based terms. I argue that the non-harm-based objection should be rejected, because it is incompatible with a moral principle central to queer rights. And the harm-based objection, I argue, is outweighed by the benefits of attraction-expanding technology, and undermined by the prerogative you have over your personal romantic choices. I conclude by considering whether, from the perspective of society, the development of attraction-expanding technology would be desirable.
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DOI 10.1007/s10677-020-10114-y
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References found in this work BETA

Gender and Gender Terms.Elizabeth Barnes - 2020 - Noûs 54 (3):704-730.
The Methods of Ethics.Henry Sidgwick - 1962 - Cambridge University Press.

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