Moral vices as artistic virtues: Eugene onegin and Alice

Philosophia 36 (2):181-193 (2008)

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Abstract
Moralists hold that art criticism can and should take stock of moral considerations. Though moralists disagree over the proper scope of ethical art criticism, they are unified in their acceptance of the consistency of valence thesis: when an artwork fares poorly from the moral point of view, and this fact is art critically relevant, then it is thereby worse qua artwork. In this paper, I argue that a commitment to moralism, however strong, is unattractive because it requires that we radically revise our art critical practices in contexts where revision seems ill advised. I will consider two such cases, Pushkin’s Eugene Onegin and Balthus’ Alice. When we further reflect on our actual art critical practices in cases like these, we find that we do not have an unfailing commitment to the consistency of valence thesis. That is, some artworks are (artistically) good because they are (morally) bad
Keywords Art  Ethics  Aesthetics  Moralism  Immoralism
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DOI 10.1007/s11406-007-9102-8
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