About this topic

Broadly construed, Aesthetics and Ethics concerns the relationship between art and morality. Here we ask: Can artworks provide moral knowledge? Can artworks corrupt and instruct morally?  More narrowly construed, the category concerns the relationship between aesthetic and moral value. The chief question is this: Do moral flaws with works of art constitute aesthetics flaws? In addition, we can ask if aesthetic value is morally significant. This last issue has important implications for environmental ethics.

Key works The most important collection on the topic is Levinson 1998. The majority of the work on the topic is in essay form, but there are a few influential books. Gaut 2007 is an important, recent monograph. 
Introductions Although a bit out of date, Carroll 2000 provides an excellent overview of the area.  Gaut 2001 is also an excellent introduction.
Related categories

337 found
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  1. added 2018-12-20
    The ‘Moralism’ in Immoralism: A Critique of Immoralism in Aesthetics.Panos Paris - forthcoming - British Journal of Aesthetics:ayy043.
    According to immoralists, some artworks are better aesthetically in virtue of their immorality. A. W. Eaton recently offered a novel defence of this view, seeking to overcome shortcomings in previous accounts, thereby occasioning a reconsideration of immoralism. Yet, as I argue in this paper, Eaton’s attempt is unsuccessful, insofar as it consists partly of inadequately supported claims, and partly—and more interestingly, albeit paradoxically––of covert moralist assumptions that are, eo ipso, incompatible with immoralism. I then turn to a parallel debate in (...)
  2. added 2018-12-13
    Cultural Appropriation and the Intimacy of Groups.C. Thi Nguyen & Matthew Strohl - forthcoming - Philosophical Studies:1-22.
    What could ground normative restrictions concerning cultural appropriation which are not grounded by independent considerations such as property rights or harm? We propose that such restrictions can be grounded by considerations of intimacy. Consider the familiar phenomenon of interpersonal intimacy. Certain aspects of personal life and interpersonal relationships are afforded various protections in virtue of being intimate. We argue that an analogous phenomenon exists at the level of large groups. In many cases, members of a group engage in shared practices (...)
  3. added 2018-12-08
    Sympathy for the Scientist: Re-Calibrating a Heideggerian Critique of Metaphysics.Jonathan Morgan - manuscript
    This paper attempts to develop an ethico-aesthetic framework for enriching one's life and ethical outlook. Drawing primarily from Nietzsche, Foucault, and Heidegger, an argument is made that Heidegger's understanding of this issue was mistaken. The ontological crisis of modernity is not the overt influence of mathematics as a worldview over poetics and more traditionally aesthetic approaches. It is the rampant mis-and over-application of abstraction within one's view of the world while denying the material realities of life as we live it. (...)
  4. added 2018-11-28
    Aesthetics: The Big Questions. [REVIEW]James Shelley - 1999 - American Society for Aesthetics Newsletter 19.
  5. added 2018-11-02
    The Animal Is Present: The Ethics of Animal Use in Contemporary Art.Anthony Cross - 2018 - Journal of Aesthetics and Art Criticism 76 (4):519-528.
    In recent years, an increasing number of contemporary artists have incorporated live animals into their work. Although this development has attracted a great deal of attention in the artworld and among animal rights activists, it has not been much discussed in the philosophy of art—which is quite remarkable, given the serious ethical and artistic questions that these artworks prompt. I focus on answering two such questions. First, is the use of animals in these artworks ethically objectionable? Or are such artworks (...)
  6. added 2018-11-02
    The Role of Awe in Environmental Ethics.Katie Mcshane - 2018 - Journal of Aesthetics and Art Criticism 76 (4):473-484.
  7. added 2018-11-02
    The Interaction of Ethics and Aesthetics in Environmental Art.Ted Nannicelli - 2018 - Journal of Aesthetics and Art Criticism 76 (4):497-506.
  8. added 2018-11-02
    Consumer Aesthetics and Environmental Ethics: Problems and Possibilities.Yuriko Saito - 2018 - Journal of Aesthetics and Art Criticism 76 (4):429-439.
  9. added 2018-10-28
    Introduzione.Elisa Caldarola, Quattrocchi Davide & Gabriele Tomasi - 2013 - In Elisa Caldarola, Davide Quattrocchi & Gabriele Tomasi (eds.), Wittgenstein, l’estetica e le arti. Roma - Bari: Carocci.
  10. added 2018-10-26
    On Form, and the Possibility of Moral Beauty.Panos Paris - 2018 - Metaphilosophy 49 (5):711-729.
    There is a tendency in contemporary (analytic) aesthetics to consider- ably restrict the scope of things that can be beautiful or ugly. This peculiarly modern tendency is holding back progress in aesthetics and robbing it of its potential contribution to other domains of inquiry. One view that has suffered neglect as a result of this tendency is the moral beauty view, whereby the moral virtues are beautiful and the moral vices are ugly. This neglect stems from an assumption to the (...)
  11. added 2018-10-05
    Aesthetics and Ethics: Essays at the Intersection. [REVIEW]Jenefer Robinson - 2002 - Mind 111 (443):687-693.
  12. added 2018-09-16
    The Responsibility to Understand.Theodore George - 2014 - In Gert-Jan van der Heiden (ed.), Phenomenological Perspectives on Plurality. Leiden, Netherlands: Brill. pp. 103-120.
    The concern of the present inquiry is whether, and, if so, how, Hans-Georg Gadamer’s conception of hermeneutical understanding can help us grasp the character of our ethical responsibility, and, indeed, a sense of responsibility that remains answerable to the plurality of our always singular and contingent ethical experiences. The focus of this essay, however, is to shed novel light on the responsibility at stake in understanding—or, as this may be referred to more simply, the responsibility to understand—on the motif of (...)
  13. added 2018-09-15
    In a World Fraught and Tender.Theodore George - 2017 - Epoché: A Journal for the History of Philosophy 22 (1):39-52.
    In this essay, the author argues that Dennis Schmidt’s considerations of ethical life, when taken together, comprise a prescient and distinctive response to Heidegger’s call to pursue an ‘original ethics.’ In this, Schmidt disavows discourses within the discipline of ethics that seek to establish an ethical theory or position, arguing instead that the demands of ethical life require us to focus on the incalculable singularity of the factical situations in which we find ourselves. The author suggests that Schmidt’s contributions to (...)
  14. added 2018-09-06
    Games and the Moral Transformation of Violence.C. Thi Nguyen - 2018 - In Jon Robson & Grant Tavinor (eds.), The Aesthetics of Videogames. Routledge. pp. 181-197.
  15. added 2018-09-06
    ‘It’s Just a Story’: Pornography, Desire, and the Ethics of Fictive Imagining.Christopher Bartel & Anna Cremaldi - 2018 - British Journal of Aesthetics 58 (1):37-50.
    © British Society of Aesthetics 2017. Published by Oxford University Press on behalf of the British Society of Aesthetics. All rights reserved. For Permissions, please email: journals.permissions@oup.comIn the popular media, morally problematic content is often defended on the grounds that ‘it’s just a story’—that is, imaginative engagement with morally problematic content amounts merely to entertaining a story, and there is nothing morally wrong with entertaining a story. Against this, some aestheticians have argued that, in fact, there can be something intrinsically (...)
  16. added 2018-08-06
    The Nature of the Interaction Between Moral and Artistic Value.Moonyoung Song - 2018 - Journal of Aesthetics and Art Criticism 76 (3):285-295.
    This article aims to advance our understanding of the interaction between moral and artistic value by asking what it means that an artwork's moral virtue or defect is an artistic virtue or defect and how we can prove or disprove such a claim. I approach these questions first by distinguishing between intrinsic and contextual value interactions and then by examining two strategies commonly used to establish claims about contextual value interaction: (1) appealing to the counterfactual dependence of the work's artistic (...)
  17. added 2018-08-01
    James Warren, “The Pleasures of Reason in Plato, Aristotle, and the Hellenistic Hedonists.” Review by Facundo Bey. [REVIEW]Facundo Bey - 2016 - Boletín de Estética 36:71-76.
    The Pleasures of Reason in Plato, Aristotle, and the Hellenistic Hedonists se centra en la relación mutua entre las capacidades humanas de sentir placer y dolor y el carácter afectivo que las une con las facultades cognitivas de aprender, comprender, recordar, evocar, planificar y anticiparse. Para esto, Warren consagra toda su agudeza analítica a eminentes obras del pensamiento antiguo: particularmente nos referimos a los diálogos platónicos República, Protágoras y Filebo. Otro tanto hace con De Anima, De Memoria et Reminiscentia, Ética (...)
  18. added 2018-06-25
    Social Aesthetics and Moral Judgment: Pleasure, Reflection and Accountability.A. McMahon Jennifer (ed.) - 2018 - New York, USA: Routledge.
    This edited collection sets forth a new understanding of aesthetic-moral judgment organised around three key concepts: pleasure, reflection, and accountability. The overarching theme is that art is not merely a representation or expression like any other, but that it promotes shared moral understanding and helps us engage in meaning-making. This volume offers an alternative to brain-centric and realist approaches to aesthetics. It features original essays from a number of leading philosophers of art, aesthetics, ethics, and perception, including Elizabeth Burns Coleman, (...)
  19. added 2018-06-25
    Social Aesthetics and Moral Judgment: Pleasure, Reflection and Accountability.J. McMahon (ed.) - 2018 - New York, USA: Routledge.
    This edited collection sets forth a new understanding of aesthetic-moral judgment organised around three key concepts: pleasure, reflection, and accountability. The overarching theme is that art is not merely a representation or expression like any other, but that it promotes shared moral understanding and helps us engage in meaning-making. This volume offers an alternative to brain-centric and realist approaches to aesthetics. It features original essays from a number of leading philosophers of art, aesthetics, ethics, and perception, including Elizabeth Burns Coleman, (...)
  20. added 2018-06-04
    Ethischer, ästhetischer und architektonischer Wert: Zur Verteidigung des moderaten Moralismus.Christoph Baumberger - 2017 - In Karsten Berr (ed.), Architektur- und Planungsethik. Zugänge, Perspektiven, Standpunkte. Wiesbaden, Germany: pp. 159-174.
    In der Architekturkritik finden sich oft ethische Bewertungen. Haben diese einen Einfluss auf den architektonischen Wert von Bauwerken? Und in welcher Beziehung steht der ethische Wert architektonischer Werke zu ihrem ästhetischen Wert? Ich verteidige die folgenden Antworten, die einen moderaten Moralismus mit Bezug auf Architektur definieren: Ein architektonisches Werk ist in manchen Fällen (1) architektonisch kritisierbar (oder lobenswert), insofern es ethische Mängel (oder Vorzüge) hat, (2) ästhetisch kritisierbar (oder lobenswert), insofern es ethische Mängel (oder Vorzüge) hat, und (3) ethisch kritisierbar (...)
  21. added 2018-05-21
    The Empirical Case for Moral Beauty.Panos Paris - 2017 - Australasian Journal of Philosophy 96 (4):642-656.
    ABSTRACTAlthough formative of modern value theory, the moral beauty view—which states that moral virtue is beautiful and moral vice is ugly—is now mostly neglected by philosophers. The two contemporary defences of the view mostly capitalize on its intuitive attractiveness, but to little avail: such considerations hardly convince sceptics of what is nowadays a rather unpopular view. Historically, the view was supported by thought experiments; and although these greatly increase its plausibility, they also raise empirical questions, which they leave unanswered. Here, (...)
  22. added 2018-04-21
    Rethinking Autonomism: Beauty in a World of Moral Anarchy.Adriana Clavel‐Vazquez - 2018 - Philosophy Compass 13 (7):e12501.
  23. added 2018-03-27
    Leo Tolstoy’s tragic death and his impacts on Max Weber and György Lukács: On autonomy of arts and science/ O tema da morte trágica de Liev Tolstói e set impacto em Max Weber e György Lukács: Sobre a autonomia nas ciências e na arte.Luis F. Roselino - 2014 - Revista História E Cultura 3 (1):150-171.
    The tragic death in Tolstoy's writings has helped both Max Weber and György Lukács in characterizing the modern pathos as a tragic contemplation of the emptiness of life. Through Tolstoy's readings, Weber and Lukács found an interesting source of denying arts and modern sciences autonomy, considering, from the aesthetics sphere, the meaningless of this new immanent reality. Both has assumed Tolstoy main theme from the same perspective, contrasting ancient and modern worldviews. Max Weber presented this theme in his disenchantment of (...)
  24. added 2018-03-23
    Heidegger, Art, and the Overcoming of Metaphysics.Matt Dill - 2017 - European Journal of Philosophy 25 (2):294-311.
    In this paper, I advance a new interpretation of Heidegger's reflections on art as we find them in his essay, ‘The Origin of the Work of Art’. I begin, in Section 1, by uncovering the fundamental concern that motivates Heidegger's essay. I show that Heidegger's reflections on art are part of his attempt to uncover a path beyond the history of metaphysics. I then suggest, in Section 2, that while Heidegger does think that art may allow for the overcoming of (...)
  25. added 2018-03-20
    Expressivism and Aesthetics.Rachel Zuckert - 2006 - Graduate Faculty Philosophy Journal 27 (2):1-24.
    Following suggestions of Isaiah Berlin, Charles Taylor articulates a central doctrine of late 18th century and 19th century German philosophy: “expressivism,” viz., the view that the most valuable human life is one of (self-) expression. This conception has historical roots, Taylor argues, in Rousseau’s proto-Romantic celebration of natural authenticity and in Herder’s theistic naturalism, and has had considerable influence on and appeal both philosophically and in the broader culture. Taylor suggests that this doctrine both draws from philosophical aesthetics, and explains (...)
  26. added 2018-02-22
    Freedom and the Value of Games.Jonathan Gingerich - 2018 - Canadian Journal of Philosophy 48 (6):831-849.
    This essay explores the features in virtue of which games are valuable or worthwhile to play. The difficulty view of games holds that the goodness of games lies in their difficulty: by making activities more complex or making them require greater effort, they structure easier activities into more difficult, therefore more worthwhile, activities. I argue that a further source of the value of games is that they provide players with an experience of freedom, which they provide both as paradigmatically unnecessary (...)
  27. added 2018-02-18
    The Ethics of Creativity: Beauty, Morality, and Nature in a Processive Cosmos.Brian G. Henning - 2005 - University of Pittsburgh Press.
    A central concern of nearly every environmental ethic is its desire to extend the scope of direct moral concern beyond human beings to plants, nonhuman animals, and the systems of which they are a part. Although nearly all environmental philosophies have long since rejected modernity’s conception of individuals as isolated and independent substances, few have replaced this worldview with an alternative that is adequate to the organic, processive world in which we find ourselves. In this context, Brian G. Henning argues (...)
  28. added 2018-02-18
    Kant and the Experience of Freedom: Essays on Aesthetics and Morality.Paul Guyer - 1993 - Cambridge University Press.
    This collection of essays by one of the preeminent Kant scholars of our time transforms our understanding of both Kant's aesthetics and his ethics. Guyer shows that at the very core of Kant's aesthetic theory, disinterestedness of taste becomes an experience of freedom and thus an essential accompaniment to morality itself. At the same time he reveals how Kant's moral theory includes a distinctive place for the cultivation of both general moral sentiments and particular attachments on the basis of the (...)
  29. added 2018-02-17
    Art and Morality.José Luis Bermúdez & Sebastian Gardner (eds.) - 2003 - Routledge.
    _Art and Morality_ is a collection of groundbreaking new papers on the theme of aesthetics and ethics, and the link between the two subjects. A group of distinguished contributors tackle the important questions that arise when one thinks about the moral dimensions of art and the aesthetic dimension of moral life. The volume is a significant contribution to philosophical literature, opening up unexplored questions and shedding new light on more traditional debates in aesthetics. The topics explored include: the relation of (...)
  30. added 2018-02-10
    Assessing Socially Engaged Art.Vid Simoniti - 2018 - Journal of Aesthetics and Art Criticism 76 (1):71-82.
    The last twenty-five years have seen a radical shift in the work of politically committed artists. No longer content to merely represent social reality, a new generation of artists has sought to change it, blending art with activism, social regeneration projects, and even violent political action. I assess how this form of contemporary art should lead us to rethink theories of artistic value and argue that these works make a convincing case for an often-dismissed position, namely, the pragmatic view of (...)
  31. added 2018-02-02
    Ownerless Emotions in Rasa-Aesthetics.Arindam Chakrabarti - 2011 - In Ken-Ichi Sasaki (ed.), Asian Aesthetics. National Univeristy of Singapore Press.
  32. added 2018-02-02
    Twelve Miles: Boundaries of the New Art/Activism.Claire Lambert-Beatty - 2008 - Signs: Journal of Women in Culture and Society 33 (2):309-327.
  33. added 2018-01-12
    Naturästhetik in der Planungsethik.Gesine Schepers - 2017 - In Karsten Berr (ed.), Architektur- und Planungsethik. Zugänge, Perspektiven, Standpunkte. RaumFragen: Stadt – Region – Landschaft. Wiesbaden: Springer. pp. 195-203.
  34. added 2018-01-10
    La esfera pública y El bar de las Folies Bergère de Edouard Manet.Carlos Vanegas - 2014 - Revista Colombiana de Pensamiento Estético E Historia Del Arte:121-137.
    The main discourses on art during the nineteenth century defined the artist as a spirit that should express their unbridled creativity, and overall that had the strength to express its total personal autonomy from institutional processes of culture. Thus, Manet’s work A bar at the Folies—Bergere contains substantial elements that express and help us to understand both the role of the artist, as the crisis of meaning in the work of modern art and problematic public sphere, treated by Haberma's as (...)
  35. added 2018-01-10
    Ante la fragilidad de la memoria.Carlos Vanegas, Javier Domínguez, Carlos Arturo Fernández & Daniel Tobón - 2014 - In Carlos Vanegas, Javier Domínguez, Carlos Arturo Fernández & Daniel Tobón (eds.), El arte y la Fragilidad de la memoria. Medellín, Colombia: Sílaba Editores. pp. 259-275.
    Si no me falla la memoria, fue el dibujante Álvaro Barrios quien afirmó que el trabajo del artista contemporáneo colombiano se desarrolla según una agenda de trabajo. Si miramos algunos fenómenos del arte último en Colombia, podemos señalar que su agenda está determinada por el intento de comprensión de los procesos de la violencia en el país, a partir de una amplia gama de aproximaciones al concepto de memoria que ha tenido resonancia en las disciplinas humanísticas, las investigaciones académicas, el (...)
  36. added 2017-12-14
    The Neglected Harms of Beauty: Beyond Engaging Individuals.Heather Widdows - 2017 - Journal of Practical Ethics 5 (2):1-29.
    This paper explores the neglected ‘harms-to-others’ which result from increased attention to beauty, increased engagement in beauty practices and rising minimal beauty standards. In the first half of the paper I consider the dominant discourse of beauty harms – that of ethics and policy – and argue that this discourse has over-focused on the agency of, and possible harms to, recipients of beauty practices. I introduce the feminist discourse which recognises a general harm to all women and points towards an (...)
  37. added 2017-11-25
    Le Présent de l'Art : L'Hypothèse fictionnaliste : Une philosophie du mensonge sous les catégories Esthétique, Ethique et Politique.Ciro Giordano Bruni - 2013 - Sammeron: GERMS.
  38. added 2017-11-02
    Beauty Before the Eyes of Others.Jonathan Fine - 2016 - In Proceedings of the European Society for Aesthetics. Fribourg: The European Society for Aesthetics. pp. 164-176.
    This paper pursues the philosophical significance of a relatively unexplored point of Platonic aesthetics: the social dimension of beauty. The social dimension of beauty resides in its conceptual connection to shame and honour. This dimension of beauty is fundamental to the aesthetic education of the Republic, as becoming virtuous for Plato presupposes a desire to appear and to be admired as beautiful. The ethical significance of beauty, shame, and honour redound to an ethically rich notion of appearing before others which (...)
  39. added 2017-10-11
    Genre Moderates Morality’s Influence on Aesthetics.Shen-yi Liao - manuscript
    The present studies investigate morality’s influence on aesthetics and one potential moderator of that influence: genre. Study 1 finds that people’s moral evaluation positively influence their aesthetic evaluation of an artwork. Study 2 and 3 finds that this influence can be moderated by the contextual factor of genre. These results broaden our understanding of the relationship between morality and aesthetics, and suggest that models of art appreciation should take into account morality and its interaction with context. [Unpublishable 2010-2017.].
  40. added 2017-08-29
    Die Komödie der Tragödie: Shakespeares Sturm am Umschlagplatz von Mythos und Moderne, Rache und Recht, Tragik und Spiel.Katrin Trüstedt - 2011 - Konstanz: Konstanz University Press.
  41. added 2017-08-29
    Happy Days. Lebenswissen nach Cavell.Katrin Trüstedt & Kathrin Thiele (eds.) - 2009 - München: Fink Verlag.
  42. added 2017-08-29
    An Art Lawful as Eating: Cavell, King Lear und das Theater der Konvention.Katrin Trüstedt - 2009 - In Kathrin Thiele & Katrin Trüstedt (eds.), Happy Days. Lebenswissen nach Cavell. München: Fink Verlag. pp. 107-130.
  43. added 2017-08-29
    The Tragedy of Law in Shakespearean Romance.Katrin Trüstedt - 2007 - Law and Humanities 2:167–82..
  44. added 2017-08-07
    Emancipated Beauty.Peg Zeglin Brand Weiser - 2009 - In Marc Nouschi and Elisabeth Azoulay (ed.), 100,000 Years of Beauty: Modernity/Globalisations (Volume 4 of 5). Paris, France: Gallimard. pp. 140-142.
    This short essay is part of a 5 volume work entitled 100,000 Years of Beauty complete with more than 300 authors from over 30 countries. I was aksed to write about Simone de Beauvoir and the concept of 'emancipated beauty'; I cast Beauvoir's theory of freedom--combining liberation and equality with beauty and femininity--in defiance of the long-standing and constrictive dichotomy that says women must choose one or the other. Beauvoir's most famous phrase, "One is not born, but rather becomes a (...)
  45. added 2017-07-24
    Trump is Gross: Taking the Politics of Taste (and Distaste) Seriously.Shelley M. Park - 2017 - Kennedy Institute of Ethics Journal.
    This paper advances the somewhat unphilosophical thesis that “Trump is gross” to draw attention to the need to take matters of taste seriously in politics. I begin by exploring the slipperiness of distinctions between aesthetics, epistemology, and ethics, subsequently suggesting that we may need to pivot toward the aesthetic to understand and respond to the historical moment we inhabit. More specically, I suggest that, in order to understand how Donald Trump was elected President of the United States and in order (...)
  46. added 2017-07-18
    Experimental Philosophical Aesthetics as Public Philosophy.Aaron Meskin & Shen-yi Liao - forthcoming - In Sébastien Réhault & Florian Cova (eds.), Advances in Experimental Philosophy of Aesthetics. New York: Bloomsbury.
    Experimental philosophy offers an alternative mode of engagement for public philosophy, in which the public can play a participatory role. We organized two public events on the aesthetics of coffee that explored this alternative mode of engagement. The first event focuses on issues surrounding the communication of taste. The second event focuses on issues concerning ethical influences on taste. -/- In this paper, we report back on these two events which explored the possibility of doing experimental philosophical aesthetics as public (...)
  47. added 2017-07-01
    Reflexives Leben: Biologie und Ästhetik um 1800. [REVIEW]Thomas Khurana - 2010 - Texte Zur Kunst 20:177-182.
  48. added 2017-03-13
    Imagining Evil.James Harold - 2007 - The Proceedings of the Twenty-First World Congress of Philosophy 12:7-14.
    In this paper, I explore a set of moral questions about the portrayal of evil characters in fiction: might the portrayal of evil in fiction ever be morally wrong? If so, under what circumstances and for what reasons? What kinds of portrayals are morally wrong and what kinds are not? I argue that whether or not imagining evil is morally wrong depends on the formal and structural properties of the work.
  49. added 2017-03-07
    Face to Face with It: The Naive Reader's Moral Response to "Ivan Ilych".Comstock Gary - 1986 - Neophilologus 70 (3):321-333.
    This paper argues that a naive reader's moral response to a short story should be considered part of the story's meaning.
  50. added 2017-02-28
    Numbing the Heart: Racist Jokes and the Aesthetic Affect.Tanya Rodriguez - 2014 - Contemporary Aesthetics 12.
    People sometimes resist the idea that racist humor fails on aesthetic grounds because they find it funny. They make the case that we can enjoy its comic aspects by controlling our attention, by focusing on a joke’s rhythm or delivery rather than on its racist content. Ironic intent may reside with the joke teller and/or the audience. I discuss how arguments for the immorality of racist jokes fall short. Ironic racist jokes may be acceptable to an audience that already rejects (...)
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