Submission Date


Document Type

Paper- Restricted to Campus Access



Faculty Mentor

Kelly Sorensen


Presented during the 18th Annual Summer Fellows Symposium, July 22, 2016 at Ursinus College.

Project Description

My research concerns the ethics of body modifications. Many people assume body modifications are extreme acts such as scarifications, but they can be as simple as ear piercings. Although we like to believe we have moral permission to do whatever we want to our bodies, I argue some modifications are morally wrong or morally suberogatory, (a technical term for a case that is not morally wrong, but is still morally undesirable or sketchy). Oppression, perfection, and inauthenticity are all determining factors of when a modification could be morally wrong or morally suberogatory. I consider an oppressive modification morally suberogatory, and in some cases, morally wrong when it is strongly tied to historical oppression and when it perpetuates the oppression. Skin bleaching is an example of a modification that I would call oppressive and morally wrong. I argue in this research that modifying one’s body to achieve perfection is morally suberogatory for several reasons, one being that perfectionism does not exist. Being inauthentic is no longer a concern for me as you will see later on in my paper. But, I still developed two conditions in which a case could be morally suberogatory: its permanence and whether the reason for the modification is trivial or profound.


Available to Ursinus community only.