Relational Theories of Art: the History of an Error

British Journal of Aesthetics 52 (2):141-151 (2012)
Abstract
Relational theories of art—paradigmatically, the ‘Institutional’ theory—arose from dissatisfaction with the Wittgenstein-inspired ‘family resemblance’ account of art, and were taken not merely to be preferable in various ways to that account, but actually to falsify it. We argue that this latter thought is rooted in a fundamental misunderstanding of the falsification-conditions of a family resemblance account; and we suggest that, once the reasons for this are appreciated, any apparent motivation to engage in relational theorizing about art evaporates.
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DOI 10.1093/aesthj/ays004
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