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Summary

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Introductions Although a bit out of date, Carroll 2000 provides an excellent overview of the area.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.
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  1. Sabrina Achilles (2012). Literature, Ethics, and Aesthetics: Applied Deleuze and Guattari. Palgrave Macmillan.
    Introduction: the literary function -- Being constructivist -- Rethinking the performative in pragmatics -- The literary function and the cartographic turn: performative philosophy -- The literary function and society, I: affirmation of immanent aesthetics -- The literary function and society, II: community and subjectification -- The reader and the event of fiction -- Conclusion: degrees of freedom.
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  2. James C. Anderson & Jeffrey T. Dean (1998). Moderate Autonomism. British Journal of Aesthetics 38 (2):150-166.
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  3. John Anderson (1941). Art and Morality. Australasian Journal of Psychology and Philosophy 19 (3):253-266.
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  4. Antony Aumann (2016). A Moral Problem for Difficult Art. Journal of Aesthetics and Art Criticism 74 (4):383-396.
    Works of art can be difficult in several ways. One important way is by making us face up to unsettling truths. Such works typically receive praise. I maintain, however, that sometimes they deserve moral censure. The crux of my argument is that, just as we have a right to know the truth in certain contexts, so too we have a right not to know it. Provided our ignorance does not harm or seriously endanger others, the decision about whether to know (...)
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  5. Elvio Baccarini & Milica Urban (2013). The Moral and Cognitive Value of Art. Etica E Politica 15 (1):474-505.
    This paper is about the notions of the artistic, aesthetic, cognitive and moral value of art and their interconnectedness. The main concern is to try to advocate the cognitivist claim about the artistic value of artworks’ contribution to the advance of knowledge, as well as for the relevance of the moral dimension for artistic value. This is a discussion of the intersection of the debate about moral and aesthetic value. The central part of the paper is focused on a debate (...)
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  6. Christopher Bartel (2014). Art and Pornography. British Journal of Aesthetics 54 (4):510-512.
  7. Christoph Baumberger (2013). Art and Understanding. In Defence of Aesthetic Cognitivism. In Marc Greenlee, Rainer Hammwöhner, Bernd Köber, Christoph Wagner & Christian Wolff (eds.), Bilder sehen. Perspektiven der Bildwissenschaft. Schnell + Steiner 41-67.
    Aesthetic cognitivism is best thought of as a conjunction of an epistemic and an aesthetic claim. The epistemic thesis is that artworks have cognitive functions, the aesthetic thesis that cognitive functions of artworks partly determine their artistic value. In this article, my first aim is to defend the epistemic thesis of aesthetic cognitivism. Since it seems undeniable that artworks have cognitive functions, yet less clear whether they have them as artworks, I will focus on cognitive functions that plausibly belong to (...)
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  8. Burcu Baykan (2015). To Be-Between, To Pass Between: Becoming “Intermezzo” in Orlan’s Carnal Art. In Leslie Malland (ed.), Time, Space & the Body. UK: Inter-Disciplinary Press E-Books
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  9. Hanoch Ben-Pazi (2015). Emmanuel Levinas: Hermeneutics, Ethics, and Art. Journal of Literature and Art Studies 5:pp. 588 - 600.
    "Art does not know a particular type of reality; it contrasts with knowledge. It is the very event of obscuring, a descent of the night, an invasion of shadow" (Levinas 1989, 132). Levinas chooses these words to depict the role, action, and essence of art. Terms such as "obscuring," "descent of the night," and "shadow" serve as modes of a consciousness that is different from, if not the opposite of, "enlightened" knowledge, which is signified, in contrast, by terms such as (...)
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  10. Arnold Berleant (2005). Aesthetics and Environment: Variations on a Theme. Ashgate Pub. Ltd..
    I: Environmental aesthetics -- A phenomenological aesthetics of environment -- Aesthetic dimensions of environmental design -- Down the garden path -- The wilderness city : a study of metaphorical experience -- Aesthetics of the coastal environment -- The world from the water -- Is there life in virtual space? -- Is greasy lake a place? -- Embodied music -- II: Social aesthetics -- The idea of a cultural aesthetic -- The social evaluation of art -- Subsidization of art as social (...)
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  11. José Luis Bermúdez & Sebastian Gardner (eds.) (2003). Art and Morality. 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 world-class contributors tackle the important question 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 the philosophical literature, opening up unexplored questions and shedding new light on more traditional debates in aesthetics. The topics explored include the relation (...)
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  12. Ruben Berrios (2004). José Luis Bermúdez and Sebastian Gardner, Eds., Art and Morality. New York: Routledge, 2003, 303 Pp. (Indexed). ISBN 0-415-19252-8, US$96.95 (Hb). [REVIEW] Journal of Value Inquiry 38 (3):419-423.
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  13. Edmunds Bunkse (2001). The Case of the Missing Sublime in Latvian Landscape Aesthetics and Ethics. Ethics, Place and Environment 4 (3):235 – 246.
    In perceptions of their landscapes the Latvians have denied the existence of the sublime, elevating rural and natural aspects as beautiful and good. While Latvian landscape aesthetics and ethics are based on the profound transformation of nature-landscape attitudes that occurred in Europe during the second half of the 18th century, when ideas of the beautiful, sublime, and the picturesque were debated, the existence of sublime characteristics within the borders of Latvia has not been recognized. In part the attitude derives from (...)
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  14. Harold Ward Carle (1985). Ethical Implications of Aesthetics. Dissertation, The American University
    The artistic gesture is a unique demonstration of individual freedom. Rather than manifestation of truth or beauty, aesthetics represents personal morality in that the individual determines what ought to be. This determination is entirely free and unforced, as opposed to the individual's moral responses to his natural and social environments. Uncoerced and dependent only on the individual's personal initiative, it represents a particularly significant moral consideration. Such an interpretation of morality and aesthetics is the focus of the first chapter. ;The (...)
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  15. David Carr (2014). Four Perspectives on the Value of Literature for Moral and Character Education. Journal of Aesthetic Education 48 (4):1-16.
    We all know that something is eternal. And it ain’t houses and it ain’t names, and it ain’t earth, and it ain’t even the stars . . . everybody knows in their bones that something is eternal, and that something has to do with human beings. All the greatest people ever lived have been telling us that for five thousand years and yet you’d be surprised how people are always losing hold of it. There’s something way down deep that’s eternal (...)
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  16. Noël Carroll (2015). Architecture and Ethics: Autonomy, Architecture, Art. Architecture Philosophy 1 (2):139-156.
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  17. Noël Carroll (2013). Rough Heroes: A Response to A.W. Eaton. Journal of Aesthetics and Art Criticism 71 (4):371-376.
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  18. Noël Carroll (2010). At the Crossroads of Ethics and Aesthetics. Philosophy and Literature 34 (1):pp. 248-259.
    Art, Emotion, and Ethics is a brilliant book with many important, useful, insightful, and even profound things to say about a range of topics including the relation of the imagination to art, understanding, and ethics, and the paradox of fiction, as well as sensitive and in-depth interpretations of masterpieces by the likes of Rembrandt and Nabokov. It is very convincing in its jousts with autonomists for people like me who favor the view that sometimes ethical blemishes are aesthetic blemishes and (...)
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  19. Noël Carroll (2006). Ethics and Aesthetics: Replies to Dickie, Stecker, and Livingston. British Journal of Aesthetics 46 (1):82-95.
    Both my deflationary approach to aesthetic experience and what I call moderate moralism have been challenged recently in the pages of the British Journal of Aesthetics by Paisley Livingston, Robert Stecker, and George Dickie. In this essay, I attempt to deal with their objections while also trying to move the debate to new ground.
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  20. Noël Carroll (2002). The Wheel of Virtue: Art, Literature, and Moral Knowledge. Journal of Aesthetics and Art Criticism 60 (1):3–26.
    In this essay, then, I would like to address what I believe are the most compelling epistemic arguments against the notion that literature (and art more broadly) can function as an instrument of education and a source of knowledge.
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  21. Noël Carroll (2000). Art and Ethical Criticism: An Overview of Recent Directions of Research. Ethics 110 (2):350-387.
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  22. Noel Carroll (1998). Moderate Moralism Versus Moderate Autonomism. British Journal of Aesthetics 38 (4):419-424.
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  23. Noel Carroll (1997). A Philosophy of Mass Art. Clarendon Press.
    Few today can escape exposure to mass art. Nevertheless, despite the fact that mass art provides the primary source of aesthetic experience for the majority of people, mass art is a topic that has been neglected by analytic philosophers of art. The Philosophy of Mass Art addresses that lacuna. It shows why philosophers have previously resisted and/or misunderstood mass art and it develops new frameworks for understanding mass art in relation to the emotions, morality, and ideology.
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  24. Noël Carroll (1996). Moderate Moralism. British Journal of Aesthetics 36 (3):223-238.
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  25. Noël Carroll & John Gibson (eds.) (2011). Narrative, Emotion, and Insight. Penn State University Press.
    While narrative has been one of the liveliest and most productive areas of research in literary theory, discussions of the nature of emotional responses to art and of the cognitive value of art tend to concentrate almost exclusively on the problem of fiction: How can we emote over or learn from fictions? _Narrative, Emotion, and Insight _explores what would happen if aestheticians framed the matter differently, having narratives—rather than fictional characters and events—as the object of emotional and cognitive attention. The (...)
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  26. Scot Clifton (2016). A Notorious Example of Failed Mindreading: Dramatic Irony and the Moral and Epistemic Value of Art. Journal of Aesthetic Education 50 (3):73-90.
    Moral education can occur in several ways. In philosophy, the preferred way appears to be in the construction and defense of normative ethical theories, where answers are proffered to the following question: what ethical theory should we adopt in order to live a morally worthwhile life? Some moral philosophers have conceived of a different dimension to moral education, however. Martha Nussbaum, for example, writes, “Moral knowledge... is not simply intellectual grasp of propositions; it is not even simply intellectual grasp of (...)
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  27. Diané Collinson (1985). ‘Ethics and Aesthetics Are One’. British Journal of Aesthetics 25 (3):266-272.
    What did wittgenstein mean when he said that 'ethics and aesthetics are one', Since these are generally contrasted than amalgamated? his "1914-1916 notebooks", The "tractatus", And the "lecture on ethics", Show that he regarded them as one because they shared a "sub specie aeternitatis" attitude. Study of his remarks reveals the implications of his account and shows that wittgenstein, In this phase of development, Belonged in the mainstream of ethical and aesthetic philosophy.
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  28. O. Connolly (2000). Ethicism and Moderate Moralism. British Journal of Aesthetics 40 (3):302-316.
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  29. Brandon Cooke (2015). Drawing From Life. British Journal of Aesthetics 55 (4):449-464.
    Felicia Ackerman argues that it is often wrong to use real people in fiction because it harms them. I argue that even when drawing from life is wrong, the unethical use of real people as literary material may nonetheless be rationally justified, and not in purely self-interested, instrumentalist terms. Either ethical considerations are always overriding, and much of our creative and appreciative practices are morally corrupt, or ethical and aesthetic values are incommensurable. I defend the plausibility of the incommensurabilist alternative, (...)
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  30. Herbert Ellsworth Cory (1926). Beauty and Goodness: Art and Morality. International Journal of Ethics 36 (4):394-402.
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  31. Timothy M. Costelloe (2007). Aesthetics and Morals in the Philosophy of David Hume. Routledge.
    The book has two aims. First, to examine the extent and significance of the connection between Hume's aesthetics and his moral philosophy; and, second, to consider how, in light of the connection, his moral philosophy answers central questions in ethics. The first aim is realized in chapters 1-4. Chapter 1 examines Hume's essay "Of the Standard of Taste" to understand his search for a "standard" and how this affects the scope of his aesthetics. Chapter 2 establishes that he treats beauty (...)
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  32. Laura D'Olimpio (2014). Thoughts on Film: Critically Engaging with Both Adorno and Benjamin. Educational Philosophy and Theory 48 (6):622-637.
    There is a traditional debate in analytic aesthetics that surrounds the classification of film as Art. While much philosophy devoted to considering film has now moved beyond this debate and accepts film as a mass art, a sub-category of Art proper, it is worth re-considering the criticism of film pre-Deleuze. Much of the criticism of film as pseudo-art is expressed in moral terms. T. W. Adorno, for example, critiques film as ‘mass-cult’; mass produced culture which presents a ‘flattened’ version of (...)
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  33. E. M. Dadlez & Jeanette Bicknell (2013). Not Moderately Moral: Why Hume Is Not a "Moderate Moralist". Philosophy and Literature 37 (2):330-342.
    If philosophers held popularity contests, David Hume would be a perennial winner. Witty, a bon vivant, and champion of reason over bigotry and superstition, it is not surprising that many contemporary thinkers want to recruit him as an ally or claim his views as precursors to their own. In the debate over the moral content of artworks and its possible relevance for artistic and aesthetic value, the group whose views are known variously as “ethicism,” “moralism,” or “moderate moralism” has claimed (...)
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  34. Phillip Deen (2016). What Moral Virtues Are Required to Recognize Irony? Journal of Value Inquiry 50 (1):51-67.
    The Onion, a widely known satirical newspaper, frequently finds its articles taken as the literal truth. One article from May 2011, “Planned Parenthood Opens $8 Billion Abortionplex,” featured teenage girls gushing over the amusement park amenities like a ten-screen theater, nightclub and “lazy river” and a fake PR representative touting, “Whether she’s a high school junior who doesn’t want to go to prom pregnant, a go-getter professional who can’t be bothered with the time commitment of raising a child, or a (...)
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  35. Roland A. Delattre (2003). Aesthetics and Ethics: Jonathan Edwards and the Recovery of Aesthetics for Religious Ethics. Journal of Religious Ethics 31 (2):277 - 297.
    This is a tricentennial riff on the Edwardsean idea that beauty is both the first principle of being and the distinguishing perfection of God. What is really distinctive about Edwards's view of beauty is that it is an ontological reality and consists in joyfully bestowing being and beauty more than in being beautiful, in creative and beautifying activity more than in being beautiful. Edwards was also a pioneer in the way he envisaged a lively universe created by God, not out (...)
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  36. A. E. Denham (2000). Metaphor and Moral Experience. Oxford University Press.
    Alison Denham examines the ways in which our engagement with literary art, and metaphorical discourse in particular, informs our moral beliefs. She considers to what extent moral and metaphorical discourses are capable of truth or falsehood, warrant or justification, and how it is that we understand these discourses. This vital new study offers a fresh view of the nature of the moral and the metaphorical, and the relations between art and morality.
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  37. Michael R. DePaul (1988). Argument and Perception: The Role of Literature in Moral Inquiry. Journal of Philosophy 85 (10):552-565.
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  38. Mary Devereaux (1998). Beauty and Evil: The Case of Leni Riefenstahl's 'Triumph of the Will'. In Jerrold Levinson (ed.), Aesthetics and Ethics. Cambridge University Press 227--256.
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  39. Priyan Dias (2011). Aesthetics and Ethics in Engineering: Insights From Polanyi. [REVIEW] Science and Engineering Ethics 17 (2):233-243.
    Polanyi insisted that scientific knowledge was intensely personal in nature, though held with universal intent. His insights regarding the personal values of beauty and morality in science are first enunciated. These are then explored for their relevance to engineering. It is shown that the practice of engineering is also governed by aesthetics and ethics. For example, Polanyi’s three spheres of morality in science—that of the individual scientist, the scientific community and the wider society—has parallel entities in engineering. The existence of (...)
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  40. George Dickie (2005). The Triumph in Triumph of the Will. British Journal of Aesthetics 45 (2):151-156.
    The question at issue is whether moral defects of artworks can be aesthetic defects. Noël Carroll claims they can be, Berys Gaut claims they are, and James Anderson and Jeffrey Dean claim they are not. I side with Anderson and Dean and produce additional arguments against Carroll and Gaut. Triumph of the Will serves as an example that all five of us agree is a morally flawed artwork. I argue and conclude that its horrible moral defects are not aesthetic ones. (...)
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  41. T. J. Diffey (1985). Art and Goodness: Collingwood's Aesthetics and Moore's Ethics Compared. British Journal of Aesthetics 25 (2):185-198.
  42. Eaton Marcia Muelder (2001). Merit, Aesthetic and Ethical. Oxford University Press.
    To "look good" and to "be good" have traditionally been considered two very different notions. Indeed, philosophers have seen aesthetic and ethical values as fundamentally separate. Now, at the crossroads of a new wave of aesthetic theory, Marcia Muelder Eaton introduces this groundbreaking work, in which a bold new concept of merit where being good and looking good are integrated into one.
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  43. A. W. Eaton (2013). Reply to Carroll: The Artistic Value of a Particular Kind of Moral Flaw. Journal of Aesthetics and Art Criticism 71 (4):376-380.
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  44. A. W. Eaton (2012). Robust Immoralism. Journal of Aesthetics and Art Criticism 70 (3):281-292.
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  45. A. W. Eaton (2003). Where Ethics and Aesthetics Meet: Titian's Rape of Europa. Hypatia 18 (4):159 - 188.
    Titian's Rape of Europa is highly praised for its luminous colors and sensual textures. But the painting has an overlooked dark side, namely that it eroticizes rape. I argue that this is an ethical defect that diminishes the painting aesthetically. This argument-that an artwork can be worse off qua work of art precisely because it is somehow ethically problematic-demonstrates that feminist concerns about art can play a legitimate role in art criticism and aesthetic appreciation.
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  46. Marcia Muelder Eaton (1992). Integrating the Aesthetic and the Moral. Philosophical Studies 67 (3):219 - 240.
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  47. David E. Fenner (ed.) (1995). Ethics and the Arts: An Anthology. Routledge.
    First published in 1996. Routledge is an imprint of Taylor & Francis, an informa company.
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  48. Robert Fudge (2016). MACNEILL, PAUL, Ed. Ethics and the Arts. Dordrecht, Netherlands: Springer, 2014, Xiii + 273 Pp., 8 B&W Illus., $129.00 Cloth. [REVIEW] Journal of Aesthetics and Art Criticism 74 (4):423-425.
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  49. S. Gardner, Tragedy, Morality and Metaphysics.
    Book description: 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 (...)
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  50. Richard Thomas Garner (1965). The Use of Reasons in Ethics and Aesthetics. Dissertation, University of Michigan
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