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Christine Wieseler presents: “Using Nonideal Theory in Bioethics to Address Anti-fat Bias in Medical Practice”

12:00 pm–1:00 pm
Zoom Room:
Adina Choat, (402) 472-0415,
Please join us Monday, Nov. 8 at 12pm via Zoom ( to hear our guest lecturer, Professor Christine Wieseler, deliver her talk entitled, Using Nonideal Theory in Bioethics to Address Anti-fat Bias in Medical Practice.

About the Talk: Mainstream bioethicists engage in ideal theory insofar as they think about moral problems as arising for agents whose bodies are either irrelevant or roughly interchangeable. One might argue that bodily characteristics and their assigned social meanings should not matter for the quality of medical care a patient receives. Nonetheless, there is ample evidence that they do. I argue that the particularities of the bodies matter in clinical practice in ways that approaches to bioethics grounded in ideal theory are unable to address. It is often assumed that engaging with this literature in the context of bioethics courses is useful for students planning to become health care practitioners. However, for this to be true, it is essential to consider not only how the relationship between providers and patients should be, but ways that this ideal fails to obtain.

I focus on the example of anti-fat bias, which is prevalent among healthcare providers. Out of a purported concern for health, practitioners engage in body-shaming, undermine the reports of fat people—resulting in epistemic harm, distrust of physicians, and misdiagnoses—and promote risky practices such as extreme dieting and bariatric surgeries. Instead of behaving as if the particularities of bodies do not matter, I advocate reflection on ways that anti-fat bias can manifest in practice (including the conflation of size or body-mass index with health status), taking fat people’s reports of their experiences seriously, and engagement with the tenets of the health at every size movement.

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About the Lecturer: Christine Wieseler is Assistant Professor in the Department of Philosophy at California State Polytechnic University, Pomona. Her areas of specialization are biomedical ethics, feminist philosophy, and philosophy of disability. She has published numerous articles at the intersection of these areas as well as phenomenology in journals including Hypatia, IJFAB: International Journal of Feminist Approaches to Bioethics, American Association of Philosophy Teachers Studies in Pedagogy, and Social Philosophy Today. She is co-editing The Disability Bioethics Reader (under contract with Routledge) with Joel Michael Reynolds.

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This event originated in Nebraska Governance & Technology Center.