Hume and the Value of the Beautiful

British Journal of Aesthetics 51 (2):213-222 (2011)
Abstract
Hume is plausibly interpreted as asserting that an artwork is beautiful if and only if it pleases ideal critics. Jerrold Levinson maintains that Hume's commitment to this biconditional gives rise to a problem that occurs neither to Hume nor to his any of his interpreters—the problem of explaining why you should care what pleases ideal critics if you are not one yourself. I argue that this problem arises only if you hold an empiricist theory of aesthetic value—that is, a theory that reduces the aesthetic value of a work to the value of the experience it affords—as Levinson does. I argue that Levinson's own attempted solution to the problem cannot succeed. And I argue that the problem never arises for Hume because his commitment to the biconditional is not a commitment to an empiricist theory of aesthetic value, but to an empiricist theory of aesthetic evaluation
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