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A philosopher wrote an academic paper on the ethics of growing a beard

Accepted submission by aristarchus at 2019-01-21 21:45:27 from the With-great-beard-comes-great-responsibility dept.
Hardware

Philosophers deal with real, empirical, questions! From Quartzy [qz.com], the ethical question of male facial hair.

Those who believe growing a beard is a personal fashion choice need to reconsider. The bristly facial hair of men is, in fact, the physical embodiment of deep ethical and aesthetic considerations. Henry Pratt, philosophy professor at Marist College in Poughkeepsie, New York, wrote a detailed analysis of such philosophical conundrums in his aptly titled paper, “To Beard or Not to Beard: Ethical and Aesthetic Obligations and Facial Hair.”

Why now: well, it all goes back to the "fool says in his heart" guy, St. Anselm.

In this paper, presented at the January 2019 eastern division meeting of the American Philosophical Association in New York, Pratt considers the premise set out by Saint Anselm of Canterbury, an 11th century philosopher. Anselm writes:

Not having a beard is not dishonorable for a man who is not yet supposed to have a beard, but once he ought to have a beard, it is unbecoming for him not to have one. In the same way, not having justice is not a defect in a nature that is not obligated to have justice, but it is disgraceful for a nature that ought to have it.

The take-away:

However, one surprising consequence of my philosophical work on pogonotrophy is that I now find myself thinking that the choices made by myself and others about what to grow on our faces are actually pretty important. I find myself wondering whether I should worry about the masculinity projected by my beard, and the effects thereof. I also consider whether friends and associates should have the facial hair they grow. But just as it’s a bad idea to tell other parents they’re raising their kids wrong, I think it’s a bad idea to tell others that their beards are wrong. So far.

Other relevant sources:
The Philosophy of Beards: A Lecture Physiological, Artistic and Historical, by Thomas Gowing; 1875; [publicdomainreview.org]
The Philosopher’s Beard [theeuropean-magazine.com]
Beard Taxes! [wikipedia.org]
The Gentleman Lawyer’s Guide to Facial Hair [lawyerist.com]
"Law of Conservation of Facial Hair" still applies.


Original Submission