Aesthetic Adjectives: Experimental Semantics and Context-Sensitivity

Authors
Shen-yi Liao
University of Puget Sound
Aaron Meskin
University of Leeds
Abstract
One aim of this essay is to contribute to understanding aesthetic communication—the process by which agents aim to convey thoughts and transmit knowledge about aesthetic matters to others. Our focus will be on the use of aesthetic adjectives in aesthetic communication. Although theorists working on the semantics of adjectives have developed sophisticated theories about gradable adjectives, they have tended to avoid studying aesthetic adjectives—the class of adjectives that play a central role in expressing aesthetic evaluations. And despite the wealth of attention paid to aesthetic adjectives by philosophical aestheticians, they have paid little attention to contemporary linguistic theories of adjectives. We take our work to be a first step in remedying these lacunae. In this paper, we present four experiments that examine one aspect of how aesthetic adjectives ordinarily function: the context-sensitivity of their application standards. Our results present a prima facie empirical challenge to a common distinction between relative and absolute gradable adjectives because aesthetic adjectives are found to behave differently from both. Our results thus also constitute a prima facie vindication of some philosophical aestheticians’ contention that aesthetic adjectives constitute a particularly interesting segment of natural language, even if the boundaries of this segment might turn out to be different from what they had in mind.
Keywords experimental semantics  aesthetic adjectives  gradable adjectives  context  aesthetic communication  experimental philosophy  predicates of personal taste  experimental philosophical aesthetics
Categories (categorize this paper)
Reprint years 2017
DOI 10.1111/phpr.12217
Options
Edit this record
Mark as duplicate
Export citation
Find it on Scholar
Request removal from index
Revision history

Download options

Our Archive
Through your library

References found in this work BETA

Disagreements About Taste.Timothy Sundell - 2011 - Philosophical Studies 155 (2):267-288.

View all 26 references / Add more references

Citations of this work BETA

Experimental Philosophy of Aesthetics.Florian Cova, Amanda Garcia & Shen-yi Liao - 2015 - Philosophy Compass 10 (12):927-939.
Relativism, Disagreement and Testimony.Alexander Dinges - 2017 - Pacific Philosophical Quarterly 98 (S1):497-519.

Add more citations

Similar books and articles

Color Adjectives and Radical Contextualism.Nat Hansen - 2011 - Linguistics and Philosophy 34 (3):201-221.
Color Adjectives and Radical Contextualism.Nathaniel Hansen - 2011 - Linguistics and Philosophy 34 (3):201 - 221.
Context, Content, and Relativism.Michael Glanzberg - 2007 - Philosophical Studies 136 (1):1--29.
Gradable Adjectives: A Defence of Pluralism.Keith DeRose - 2008 - Australasian Journal of Philosophy 86 (1):141-160.
A Typology of Multidimensional Adjectives.G. W. Sassoon - 2013 - Journal of Semantics 30 (3):335-380.
The Aesthetic Peculiarity of Multifunctional Artefacts.Rafael De Clercq - 2005 - British Journal of Aesthetics 45 (4):412-425.
The Construction of Properties Under Perspectives.Renate Bartsch - 1986 - Journal of Semantics 5 (4):293-320.
Adjectives, Stereotypicality, and Comparison.Eric McCready & Norry Ogata - 2007 - Natural Language Semantics 15 (1):35-63.

Analytics

Added to PP index
2015-04-24

Total downloads
898 ( #1,890 of 2,293,879 )

Recent downloads (6 months)
125 ( #2,346 of 2,293,879 )

How can I increase my downloads?

Monthly downloads

My notes

Sign in to use this feature