What Are Aesthetic Properties?

[Derek Matravers] Jerrold Levinson maintains that he is a realist about aesthetic properties. This paper considers his positive arguments for such a view. An argument from Roger Scruton, that aesthetic realism would entail the absurd claim that many aesthetic predicates were ambiguous, is also considered and it is argued that Levinson is in no worse position with respect to this argument than anyone else. However, Levinson cannot account for the phenomenon of aesthetic autonomy: namely, that we cannot be put in a position to make an aesthetic judgement by testimony alone. Finally, Levinson's views on the ontology of aesthetic properties are considered and found wanting. /// [Jerrold Levinson] Being an aesthetic realist is hard work. Derek Matravers has raised a number of concerns for the brand of aesthetic realism that I have defended in the past, and that I continue to defend, albeit with modification. Much turns on the nature of aesthetic properties, and on the reasons for acknowledging their existence. I here try to provide further illumination on both scores, suggesting in particular that many aesthetic properties can be viewed as manifest higher-order ways of appearing. Toward the end of my discussion the question of whether or not aesthetic properties are response-dependent is addressed, and I offer the tentative conclusion that some are, and some are not.
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