Cuteness and Singer’s Expanding Moral Circle: Examining Cuteness as a Moral Issue

Title: Cuteness and Singer’s Expanding Moral Circle: Examining Cuteness as a Moral Issue
Authors: Machan, Stephen
Date: 2020-03-11
Abstract: This essay will show visual cuteness to be a biological phenomenon where viewing the specific proportions of baby-schema causes an innate releasing mechanism to respond, thus creating a consistent group of reactions in viewers. Those reactions will be shown to create a ‘halo’ effect that is similar but distinct from the attractiveness halo effect. The cuteness effect will be demonstrated to be consistent with both the caregiving effect proposed by Lorenz and the social effect proposed by Sherman and Haidt. The totality of those effects will be shown to be morally relevant in relation to the ethical theory of Singer, especially the concept of the expanding moral circle. Through examining recent studies on cuteness and relating those studies to the ethical theories of Singer a few obvious practical moral implications are created. Two of those implications will be examined to show that cuteness can be used to inform the practice of photolisting for adoption agencies and inform the justice system of a potential bias that remains unaccounted for. However, the potential for cuteness to create/explain moral reactions isn’t limited to niche areas as the final section of this essay will document cuteness’s broader ability to increase moral concern and account for moral reactions in a broader way.
CollectionSt Paul Faculté de philosophie - Mémoires // St. Paul Faculty of Philosophy - Research Papers
Machan_Stephen_2020_Thesis.pdfMajor Research Project for the Masters of Public Ethics at Saint Paul's626.71 kBAdobe PDFOpen