Sunday, February 10, 2013

[PHI 2200] Does the end justify the means?

Daniel Callahan argues that, in order to fight the obesity epidemic in the United States, we need an "edgier strategy." Some call Callahan's edgier strategy "fat-shaming," i.e., advocating a social stigma for obesity similar to the one now associated with cigarette smoking.

What do you think of Callahan's proposal? Do you agree with Callahan that a big problem like obesity requires an "edgier" solution?
  1. If approach X will produce desirable results, then we ought to take approach X.
  2. Fat-shaming will help fight the obesity epidemic.
  3. Therefore, fat-shaming is the approach we ought to take in fighting the obesity epidemic.
Does the end justify the means as far as the obesity epidemic is concerned?


  1. I think the difference with cigarette smoking and obesity is that people are acutely aware of the health consequences of smoking but not so much of those concerning obesity. If we want obesity to be eliminated, more research and results must be exposed to the public, such as deaths that can occur from obesity. Then, like with cigarette smoking, there will be a higher awareness. "Fat-shaming" or "cigarette-smoking-shaming" has never been the core source of fighting the epidemic, but it has been a result of the research that has been shown and proven to be harmful to someone's health.

    1. Thanks for your comment, Sarah. As I understand it, you're saying that the tactics used in the "war on cigarette smoking" were not really "shame tactics" but rather "scare tactics." That is, there was a public campaign whose purpose was to make people afraid of the health risks associated with cigarette smoking (which are undoubtedly real risks). Similarly, you argue, we don't need a "shaming campaign" for obesity, but rather a "scaring campaign," in which the health risks associated with obesity would be made clear to the public. Is this a fair interpretation of your main point?


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