British Journal of Aesthetics 55 (1):91-107 (2015)

Daniel Whiting
University of Southampton
Call the view that it is possible to acquire aesthetic knowledge via testimony, optimism, and its denial, pessimism. In this paper, I offer a novel argument for pessimism. It works by turning attention away from the basis of the relevant belief, namely, testimony, and toward what that belief in turn provides a basis for, namely, other attitudes. In short, I argue that an aesthetic belief acquired via testimony cannot provide a rational basis for further attitudes, such as admiration, and that the best explanation for this is that the relevant belief is not itself rational. If a belief is not rational, it is not knowledge. So, optimism is false. After addressing a number of objections to the argument, I consider briefly its bearing on the debate concerning thick evaluative concepts. While the aim is to argue that pessimism holds, not to explain why it holds, I provide an indication in closing of what that explanation might be
Keywords aesthetics  testimony  belief  rationality  thick concepts
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DOI 10.1093/aesthj/ayu099
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References found in this work BETA

Knowledge and Action.John Hawthorne & Jason Stanley - 2008 - Journal of Philosophy 105 (10):571-590.
Knowledge and Action.J. Stanley & J. Hawthorne - 2008 - Revista Cultura E Fé 37 (144).
Aesthetic Testimony.Jon Robson - 2012 - Philosophy Compass 7 (1):1-10.
Aesthetic Testimony: What Can We Learn From Others About Beauty and Art?Aaron Meskin - 2004 - Philosophy and Phenomenological Research 69 (1):65–91.

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Citations of this work BETA

Autonomy and Aesthetic Engagement.C. Thi Nguyen - 2019 - Mind 129 (516):1127-1156.
Aesthetic Evaluation and First-Hand Experience.Nils Franzén - 2018 - Australasian Journal of Philosophy 96 (4):669-682.
Aesthetic Testimony and the Test of Time.Jon Robson - 2018 - Philosophy and Phenomenological Research 96 (3):729-748.

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