What is Humpty-Dumptyism in Contemporary Visual Art? A Reply to Maes

British Journal of Aesthetics 52 (2):169-181 (2012)
In a recent article, Hans Maes argues that examples drawn from contemporary visual art shed new light on the long-standing and seemingly intractable debate between Hypothetical Intentionalism (HI) and Moderate Actual Intentionalism (AI). He presents two test cases that, he argues, tilt the scale in favour of AI. In this paper I re-examine Maes's two test cases, and argue that neither succeeds as a test case. The first case fails because it confuses a relevant fact about the artwork with the artist's intentions for the work. The second case fails because the work in question does not count as an utterance. The failure of Maes's examples suggests that the interpretive norms surrounding contemporary visual art cannot settle the debate between AI and HI
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DOI 10.1093/aesthj/ayr048
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