This essay argues for two conclusions about functional beauty as the notion has been understood by Glenn Parsons and Allen Carlson in a recent book by the same name. First of all, it is argued that functional beauty either is not a distinct kind of beauty or that the members of this kind are not all and only instances of the property of looking fit. Second, it is argued that functional beauty is relative only to categories corresponding to essential functions. The second conclusion contradicts what Parsons and Carlson write about functional beauty, but the first conclusion does not, since they agree that looking fit is not necessary for functional beauty. However, their agreement on this point is based on reasons that can be shown to be mistaken. Moreover, contrary to what Parsons and Carlson claim, looking fit can also be shown to be insufficient for functional beauty.
Bibliographical noteThis essay was presented at the 2010 CEPHAD and ESA conferences in, respectively,
Copenhagen and Udine.