The uses of aesthetic testimony

British Journal of Aesthetics 57 (1):19-36 (2017)
C. Thi Nguyen
Utah Valley University
The current debate over aesthetic testimony typically focuses on cases of doxastic repetition — where, when an agent, on receiving aesthetic testimony that p, acquires the belief that p without qualification. I suggest that we broaden the set of cases under consideration. I consider a number of cases of action from testimony, including reconsidering a disliked album based on testimony, and choosing an artistic educational institution from testimony. But this cannot simply be explained by supposing that testimony is usable for action, but unusable for doxastic repetition. I consider a new asymmetry in the usability aesthetic testimony. Consider the following cases: we seem unwilling to accept somebody hanging a painting in their bedroom based merely on testimony, but entirely willing to accept hanging a painting in a museum based merely on testimony. The switch in intuitive acceptability seems to track, in some complicated way, the line between public life and private life. These new cases weigh against a number of standing theories of aesthetic testimony. I suggest that we look further afield, and that something like a sensibility theory, in the style of John McDowell and David Wiggins, will prove to be the best fit for our intuitions for the usability of aesthetic testimony. I propose the following explanation for the new asymmetry: we are willing to accept testimony about whether a work merits being found beautiful; but we are unwilling to accept testimony about whether something actually is beautiful.
Keywords Testimony  Social epistemology  Aesthetic testimony  Aesthetic cognition  Aesthetic judgment  Epistemology of testimony  Trust  Acquaintance
Categories (categorize this paper)
DOI 10.1093/aesthj/ayw089
Edit this record
Mark as duplicate
Export citation
Find it on Scholar
Request removal from index
Revision history

Download options

Our Archive
External links

Setup an account with your affiliations in order to access resources via your University's proxy server
Configure custom proxy (use this if your affiliation does not provide a proxy)
Through your library

References found in this work BETA

No references found.

Add more references

Citations of this work BETA

Add more citations

Similar books and articles

Aesthetic Testimony: What Can We Learn From Others About Beauty and Art?Aaron Meskin - 2004 - Philosophy and Phenomenological Research 69 (1):65–91.
Aesthetic Testimony.Jon Robson - 2012 - Philosophy Compass 7 (1):1-10.
How to Be a Pessimist About Aesthetic Testimony.Robert Hopkins - 2011 - Journal of Philosophy 108 (3):138-157.
A New Look at Kant's View of Aesthetic Testimony.Keren Gorodeisky - 2010 - British Journal of Aesthetics 50 (1):53-70.
On the Rational Power of Aesthetic Testimony.Errol Lord - 2016 - British Journal of Aesthetics 56 (1):1-13.
Aesthetic Testimony and the Norms of Belief Formation.Jon Robson - 2015 - European Journal of Philosophy 23 (3):750-763.
Is Hume Really a Reductivist?Michael Welbourne - 2002 - Studies in History and Philosophy of Science Part A 33 (2):407-423.
Is Hume Really a Reductivist?Michael Welbourne - 2002 - Studies in History and Philosophy of Science Part A 33 (2):407-423.
Circular Testimony.Stephen Wright - 2016 - Philosophical Studies 173 (8):2029-2048.
How Lucky Can You Get?Sanford Goldberg - 2007 - Synthese 158 (3):315-327.


Added to PP index

Total downloads
58 ( #112,315 of 2,293,871 )

Recent downloads (6 months)
21 ( #21,259 of 2,293,871 )

How can I increase my downloads?

Monthly downloads

My notes

Sign in to use this feature