Amanda Evans Talk: "Self-improvement, Pathology, and Passions: What Can We Learn from Anorexia Nervosa?"


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Amanda Evans

Speaker: Amanda Evans is a postdoctoral fellow at the Centre for Philosophical Psychology at the University of Antwerp. She completed her PhD in philosophy at the University of Texas at Austin in 2021 after completing her bachelor's degree at the University of Notre Dame in 2016. Her research interests lie at the intersection of philosophy of mind, philosophy of psychiatry, action theory, and moral psychology. She has published on the illusory sense of agency in anorexia nervosa and is currently working on a project that connects anorexia to addiction in the context of a "horseshoe model" of loss of control. She is also interested in applying insights from the study of anorexia nervosa to feminist issues surrounding beauty norms, personal autonomy, and paternalism.

Abstract: This talk will bring together recent work by Louis Charland and colleagues on the conceptualization of anorexia nervosa as a passion, Simona Giordano’s work on the moral status of lightness in eating disorders and, finally, Heather Widdows’s claim that beauty ideals have begun to function as ethical ideals. I will draw on these bodies of work as well as my own in order to establish two claims. First, I will show that the case study of anorexia nervosa can provide us with valuable insight into the overlap between virtuous goals of self-improvement and pathological goals involving harm to oneself. Second, I will show that the awareness of anorexic individuals vis-à-vis their powers of agency ought to serve as a cautionary tale for the limits of introspection in this arena.

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