Suck it

Speaking of medical interventions in human flourishing, I've been wondering if our attitudes towards performance enhancing drugs in sports track our attitudes towards cosmetic surgery in daily life. Liposuction, to take one example, seems to be disapproved of (or at least riduculed) in most circles, and this even though many of us are carrying around more fat than we'd care to. My suspicion is that disapproval of liposuction stems from its status as a short cut. Physical fitness, the thinking goes, is attractive at least partly because it provides evidence of personal virtue, but the person who appears fit after liposuction hasn't led a virtuous life at all. On the contrary, the mere fact that they have lost weight through surgery rather than exercise seems to demonstrate that they lack the discipline to master their appetites.

It's important to be very clear here. The disapproval of liposuction is seperable from the disapproval of gluttony. That is, it has primarily to do with the feeling that the liposuction patient has gotten something that he didn't deserve.

As it happens, I'm pretty skeptical of the notion of desert, so I'm not convinced that this gives us a good reason to disapprove of liposuction. That's really no surprise though, since I can't quite understand why people object to the use of steroids by athletes, and that seems to be the performance enhancing drug that most closely tracks the liposuction case.

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