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Is beauty in the eye of the beholder? Show more Show less
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The subjectivity of beauty, or lack thereof, is a topic on which many have remained divided. We do not doubt that beautiful things, such as natural phenomena and man-made artefacts, exist but the principal problem arises when deciding whether certain aesthetic judgements hold universally.

Yes, beauty is in the eye of the beholder Show more Show less

What is deemed ‘beautiful’ or ’pleasant’ varies among individuals. How we define beauty may be straightforward but the objects to which we attach the quality of beauty entirely depends on the subject.
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Science suggests that beauty is subjective

Studies have shown how physical attractiveness differs among individuals which leads us to believe that beauty is subjective and wholly depends on the judgement of subject.

The Argument

A study led by Laura Germine, a psychiatric researcher, investigated perceptions of physical attractiveness. [1]Participants, which included 547 sets of identical twins and 214 sets of fraternal twins, were instructed to look at pictures of faces. They then rated the faces based on attractiveness and devised individual scores that measured the degree to which each twin’s individual rating differed from the average rating of the entire collective set of twins. Germine and other researchers found that participants disagreed on the attractiveness of a face 52% of the time. Given that results show that participants had differing judgements more than agreeing ones, we have reason to believe that beauty is subjective. The mere fact that the results do not demonstrate a uniform judgement on the part of the participants suggests that universal aesthetic judgements are less likely to be attained. What’s more, researchers found that the basis of this disagreement lies in the person’s environment, which has a strong influence on who they find attractive. This conclusion was reached since the preferences of identical twins’, who share identical DNA, were not more similar to each other than fraternal twins.[2] The environment includes things such as friendship groups and social media usages and this is unique even for twins. So, beauty is in the eye of the beholder because an individual’s environment, which is unique and varies among all people, greatly affects and shapes their aesthetic taste.

Counter arguments

There is only a 4% difference between the number of times the participants disagreed and when they agreed. This small window suggests that judgements of beauty, if subjective, does not entirely differ among people. Moreover, while it may be that aesthetic judgements are influenced greatly by an individual’s environment, twins generally share the same environment, especially in their younger years. For this reason, their environment is not necessarily unique. If we do not concede that their environments are the same then we must at least admit that they are very similar. If environment affects aesthetic judgements and twins share the same environment, then there must be some objectivity concerning beauty as both individuals will make agreeable judgements.



Rejecting the premises


This page was last edited on Sunday, 22 Nov 2020 at 17:45 UTC