Why the pictorial relation is not reference

British Journal of Aesthetics 44 (3):226-247 (2004)
Abstract
Nelson Goodman argued that the pictorial relation is reducible to reference. After explaining why previous attempts to refute this thesis of reduction have failed, I argue that in order to show that the thesis is indeed wrong we must find an aspect of pictures that is incompatible with it. I proceed to argue that there is indeed such an element to pictures. Ordinarily, a picture depicts its subject as having aesthetic properties. I show that the depiction of these properties requires the picture’s engagement of our aesthetic judgement. Yet if according to the thesis of reduction a picture refers to these aesthetic properties, they must be inaccessible to aesthetic judgement, because reference is based on arbitrary correlation rules. Since pictures do engage our aesthetic judgement, we must conclude that the pictorial relation is irreducible to reference.
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DOI 10.1093/bjaesthetics/44.3.226
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