New York, USA: Oxford University Press (forthcoming)

James Harold
Mount Holyoke College
This book takes up the problem of judging works of art using moral standards. When we say that a work is racist, or morally dangerous, what do we mean? The book is divided into two parts. The first part takes up the moral question on its own. What could it mean to say that a work of art (rather than, say, a human being) is immoral? The second part steps back and asks about how moral evaluation fits into the larger task of evaluating artworks. If an artwork is immoral, what does that tell us about how to value the artwork? The overall approach of the book is moderately skeptical. The book argues that many of the reasons given for thinking that works of art are immoral do not stand up to careful scrutiny. It further tries to show that even when works of art are rightly condemned from a moral point of view, the relationship between that moral flaw and their value as artworks is complex. The book defends a moderate version of autonomism between morality and aesthetics. But the real purpose of the book is to highlight the complexities and difficulties in evaluating artworks morally – many philosophers of art have simply assumed that artworks can be evaluated morally and proceeded as though such assessments were unproblematic.
Keywords ethics  aesthetics  expressivism  Confucianism  autonomism  moralism  relativism  cognitivism
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