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The University of Southampton
Southampton Ethics Centre

The Ethical Challenges Lecture 2020 Event

18:00 - 19:00
12 November 2020
Online via Microsoft Teams

For more information regarding this event, please email Tracy Storey at .

Event details

The 9th annual Ethical Challenges Lecture. Part of the School of Humanities annual series of lectures.

This years lecture will be given by Professor Heather Widdows, who is the John Ferguson Professor of Global Ethics at Birmingham, a member of the Nuffield Council on Bioethics, and author of Perfect Me: Beauty as an Ethical Ideal.

My Body, My Self?

That our bodies have become our very selves in a visual and virtual culture is one of the main arguments of Perfect Me. This is so widely believed that we often don’t recognise either that it is true (until it is pointed it out) or how surprising and transformative this is. To think that our selves are our bodies is new. We used to think of ourselves as our ‘inner selves’. Self-improvement was not improving the body but improving the mind or the soul. Being better was knowing more, having a better character or being able to do more. Success is becoming appearance-success, and recognising the moral element in this is crucial to understanding what is going on. Body work has become virtuous. If we work hard enough – stick religiously to our diet, pump iron, run, buff, smooth and firm – we will be rewarded. And the rewards will be significant. We will be better people, and, in the logic of the beauty ideal, we will be rewarded with the ‘goods of the good life’. Better relationships, better jobs, happiness, better lives.

In ‘My Body, My Self?’ I will explore the move to bodies as selves under an ethical ideal and consider what this means. In locating the self in the body we do not simply objectify. The body is not passive. It is subject and object. The self is located in the body, but not just in the actual flawed body – the objectified body. It is also in the transforming body, a body of potential and possibility, and the imagined body, the perfect me.


Please register using Eventbrite and you will then be sent a Outlook meeting request which will include the link to the lecture. Please note the lecture will take place online using Microsoft Teams. The deadline for registering is 1pm on the day of the event (12/11/2020).

Any questions or queries please contact Tracy Storey on

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