Some objections to Stecker's historical functionalism

British Journal of Aesthetics 40 (4):479-491 (2000)
Abstract
The claim that the functions of art liable to change over time appears to suggest that any attempt to define art in terms of a limited set of functions will fail. Robert Stecker has offered a functionalist definition which seeks to accommodate this criticism by making the functions which are relevant to an artwork's status those which are 'standard or correctly recognized' for some art form. I argue that Stecker does not offer a clear enough distinction between the 'standard or correctly recognized' and the accidental functions of an art form; that his account of the 'standard or correctly recognized' functions of an art form does not exhaust important artistic functions; and that his proposed definition is neither necessary nor sufficient for an object to count as an artwork. For these reasons I suggest that Stecker's functionalist account of art should be rejected.
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