'Beauty is in the eye of the beholder' is the way Margaret Hungerford reframed an old saying about beauty in the mid-19th century. And most of us endorse her phrase. But critics point to the danger that the idea that beauty is subjective has the potential to validate prejudice and immunises our taste and choices from criticism. Not only does subjectivity mean there is no reason to prefer Tolstoy to Tiktok, Picasso to Pornhub, but it also means cultural stereotypes are made acceptable, for example, that certain body types and nationalities are desirable.

Do we need to abandon the idea that beauty is in the eye of the beholder and see it instead as linked to justice and human flourishing? Should we be more self-critical of certain aesthetic judgements? Or is it essential to retain beauty as subjective to avoid the tyranny of an 'objectively' correct aesthetics?

Guardian columnist Jessica DeFino,  philosopher Simon May,  award-winning novelist Janne Teller, and author of The Beautiful Soul Justine Kolata, ask if beauty is subjective.

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