The aim of this project is to understand what makes insults directed toward overweight people morally wrong. This is divided into two chapters. The first chapter lays out the arguments of Plato and René Descartes with respect to the relationship between mind and body. For Plato, the nature of the soul and the body require that one pursue a moderate lifestyle that aims to achieve harmony within the soul and allows one to focus as much as possible on philosophy and rational activity. For Descartes, the nature of the soul and body require that one rejects an empirical basis for belief and lives a life focused on God and the eternal. It is determined that the distinction between mind and body involves a contradictory relationship between the material and the immaterial for both philosophers. In chapter two, Immanuel Kant’s ethical framework is laid out, as well as interpretations of Kant from other philosophers. The chapter explores different definitions of humanity and dignity in an attempt to come up with conception that widely inclusive of many kinds of people. Carol Hay draws a distinction in Kant’s philosophy between dignity and respect-worthiness. This distinction, along with Kant’s categorical imperative and the interpretations of other Kantian thinkers, is ultimately used to argue that health-based insults are always morally wrong.


McBride, Lee

Second Advisor

Schiltz, Elizabeth




Ethics and Political Philosophy


Kant, Plato, Descartes, Dignity, Respect-worthiness, health, the good life

Publication Date


Degree Granted

Bachelor of Arts

Document Type

Senior Independent Study Thesis



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