Using Stars for Moral Navigation: An Ethical Exploration into Celebrity

Alfred Archer*, Maureen Sie

*Corresponding author for this work

    Research output: Contribution to journalArticleScientificpeer-review


    What role do celebrities play in our moral lives? Philosophers have explored the potential for celebrities to function as moral exemplars and role models. We argue that there are more ways in which celebrities play a role in helping us navigate our moral lives. First, gossiping about celebrities helps us negotiate our moral norms and identify competing styles of life. Second, fandom for celebrities serves as the basis for the development of distinct moral communities and identities. Third, celebrities possess high levels of epistemic power which can be used to help change and adapt our moral norms. We will then investigate two kinds of problems that arise from using celebrities in this way. Firstly, harm is done to celebrities because they are used in the ways explained in the first part of the article; secondly, celebrity life has a distinctive nature that can affect the moral agency of celebrities. Fame, we suggest, might lead to a morally unhealthy asymmetry in human relationships. We end by discussing the ethical implications of our analysis and conclude that when using stars for moral navigation, we should take into account the harm this does to them and the distinctive nature of their lives.

    Original languageEnglish
    Pages (from-to)340-357
    Number of pages18
    JournalJournal of Applied Philosophy
    Issue number2
    Early online date25 Nov 2022
    Publication statusPublished - May 2023


    • Gossip
    • Exemplars
    • Privacy
    • Morality
    • Disorientation


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