It has been standard philosophical practice in analytic philosophy to employ intuitions generated in response to thought-experiments as evidence in the evaluation of philosophical claims. In part as a response to this practice, an exciting new movement—experimental philosophy—has recently emerged. This movement is unified behind both a common methodology and a common aim: the application of methods of experimental psychology to the study of the nature of intuitions. In this paper, we will introduce two different views concerning the relationship that (...) holds between experimental philosophy and the future of standard philosophical practice (what we call, the proper foundation view and the restrictionist view), discuss some of the more interesting and important results obtained by proponents of both views, and examine the pressure these results put on analytic philosophers to reform standard philosophical practice. We will also defend experimental philosophy from some recent objections, suggest future directions for work in experimental philosophy, and suggest what future lines of epistemological response might be available to those wishing to defend analytic epistemology from the challenges posed by experimental philosophy. (shrink)
We report the results of two studies that examine folk metaethical judgments about the objectivity of morality. We found that participants attributed almost as much objectivity to ethical statements as they did to statements of physical fact and significantly more objectivity to ethical statements than to statements about preferences or tastes. In both studies, younger participants attributed less objectivity to ethical statements than older participants. Females were observed to attribute slightly less objectivity to ethical statements than males, and we found (...) important interactions between attributions of objectivity and other factors, such as how strong participants’ moral opinions were and how much disagreement about the issue they perceived to exist within society. We believe our results have significant implications for debates about the nature of folk morality and about the nature of morality in general. (shrink)
Research seeking a scientific foundation for the theory of art appreciation has raised controversies at the intersection of the social and cognitive sciences. Though equally relevant to a scientific inquiry into art appreciation, psychological and historical approaches to art developed independently and lack a common core of theoretical principles. Historicists argue that psychological and brain sciences ignore the fact that artworks are artifacts produced and appreciated in the context of unique historical situations and artistic intentions. After revealing flaws in the (...) psychological approach, we introduce a psycho-historical framework for the science of art appreciation. This framework demonstrates that a science of art appreciation must investigate how appreciators process causal and historical information to classify and explain their psychological responses to art. Expanding on research about the cognition of artifacts, we identify three modes of appreciation: basic exposure to an artwork, the artistic design stance, and artistic understanding. The artistic design stance, a requisite for artistic understanding, is an attitude whereby appreciators develop their sensitivity to art-historical contexts by means of inquiries into the making, authorship, and functions of artworks. We defend and illustrate the psycho-historical framework with an analysis of existing studies on art appreciation in empirical aesthetics. Finally, we argue that the fluency theory of aesthetic pleasure can be amended to meet the requirements of the framework. We conclude that scientists can tackle fundamental questions about the nature and appreciation of art within the psycho-historical framework. (shrink)
This eloquent 1757 treatise examines how interactions with the physical world affect formulation of ideals related to beauty and art. Tremendously influential on the development of aesthetic theory, this formative dissertation was among the first explorations of the concept of the sublime and remains a thought-provoking study for modern readers.
Noel Carroll, film scholar and philosopher, offers the first serious look at the aesthetics of horror. In this book he discusses the nature and narrative structures of the genre, dealing with horror as a "transmedia" phenomenon. A fan and serious student of the horror genre, Carroll brings to bear his comprehensive knowledge of obscure and forgotten works, as well as of the horror masterpieces. Working from a philosophical perspective, he tries to account for how people can find pleasure in having (...) their wits scared out of them. What, after all, are those "paradoxes of the heart" that make us want to be horrified? (shrink)
In this paper, we argue that, barring a few important exceptions, the phenomenon we refer to using the expression “being moved” is a distinct type of emotion. In this paper’s first section, we motivate this hypothesis by reflecting on our linguistic use of this expression. In section two, pursuing a methodology that is both conceptual and empirical, we try to show that the phenomenon satisfies the five most commonly used criteria in philosophy and psychology for thinking that some affective episode (...) is a distinct emotion. Indeed, being moved, we claim, is the experience of a positive core value (particular object) perceived by the moved subject as standing out (formal object) in the circumstances triggering the emotion. Drawing on numerous examples, we describe the distinctively rich phenomenology characteristic of the experience as well as the far-reaching action-tendencies and functions associated with it. Having thus shown that the candidate emotion seem to satisfy the five criteria, we go on, in section three, to compare it with sadness and joy, arguing that it should not be confused with either. Finally, in section four, we illustrate the explanatory power of our account of “being moved” by showing how it can shed light on, and maybe even justify, the widespread distrust we feel towards the exhibition of ‘sentimentality’. On the whole and if we are right, we have uncovered an emotion which, though never or rarely talked about, is of great interest and no small importance. (shrink)
La philosophie expérimentale est un mouvement récent qui tente de faire progresser certains débats philosophiques grâce à l'utilisation de méthodes expérimentales. À la différence de la philosophie conventionnelle qui privilégie l'analyse conceptuelle ou la spéculation, la philosophie expérimentale préconise le recours aux études empiriques pour mieux comprendre les concepts philosophiques. Apparue il y a une dizaine d'années dans les pays anglo-saxons, cette approche constitue actuellement l'une des branches les plus dynamiques de la philosophie contemporaine. -/- L'objectif de cet ouvrage est (...) d'offrir un contact direct avec les travaux les plus connus et les plus discutés des philosophes expérimentaux. Il regroupe ainsi dix textes représentatifs de ce domaine jeune, mais déjà florissant, et couvre une large partie du champ philosophique contemporain (philosophie du langage, théorie de la connaissance, conscience, théorie de l'action, éthique et philosophie des sciences). (shrink)
We challenge an argument that aims to support Aesthetic Realism by claiming, first, that common sense is realist about aesthetic judgments because it considers that aesthetic judgments can be right or wrong, and, second, that becauseAesthetic Realism comes from and accounts for “folk aesthetics,” it is the best aesthetic theory available.We empirically evaluate this argument by probing whether ordinary people with no training whatsoever in the subtle debates of aesthetic philosophy consider their aesthetic judgments as right or wrong. Having shown (...) that the results do not support the main premise of the argument, we discuss the consequences for Aesthetic Realism and address possible objections to our study. (shrink)
How far should philosophical accounts of the value and interpretation of art be sensitive to the scientific approaches used by psychologists, sociologists, and evolutionary thinkers? A team of experts urge different answers to this question, and explore how empirical inquiry can shed light on problems traditionally regarded as philosophical.
This is a book about the nature of film: about the nature of moving images, about the viewer's relation to film, and about the kinds of narrative that film is capable of presenting. It represents a very decisive break with the semiotic and psychoanalytic theories of film which have dominated discussion. The central thesis is that film is essentially a pictorial medium and that the movement of film images is real rather than illusory. A general theory of pictorial representation is (...) presented, which insists on the realism of pictures and the impossibility of assimilating them to language. It criticizes attempts to explain the psychology of film viewing in terms of the viewer's imaginary occupation of a position within the world of film. On the contrary, film viewing is nearly always impersonal. (shrink)
Recreative Minds develops a philosophical theory of imagination that draws upon the latest work in psychology. This theory illuminates the use of imagination in coming to terms with art, its role in enabling us to live as social beings, and the psychological consequences of disordered imagination. The authors offer a lucid exploration of a fascinating subject.
Book synopsis: The most debated issue in aesthetics today Written by an international team of leading experts Addresses growing methodological concerns in the field Includes an extensive introduction which illuminates key issues Through much of the twentieth century, philosophical thinking about works of art, design, and other aesthetic products has emphasized intuitive and reflective methods, often tied to the idea that philosophy's business is primarily to analyze concepts. This 'philosophy from the armchair' approach contrasts with methods used by psychologists, sociologists, (...) evolutionary thinkers, and others who study the making and reception of the arts empirically. How far should philosophers be sensitive to the results of these studies? Is their own largely a priori method basically flawed? Are their views on aesthetic value, interpretation, imagination, and the emotions of art to be rethought in the light of best science? The essays in this volume seek answers to these questions, many through detailed studies of problems traditionally regarded as philosophical but where empirical inquiry seems to be shedding interesting light. No common view is looked for or found in this volume: a number of authors argue that the current enthusiasm for scientific approaches to aesthetics is based on a misunderstanding of the philosophical enterprise and sometimes on misinterpretation of the science; others suggest various ways that philosophy can and should accommodate and sometimes yield to the empirical approach. The editors provide a substantial introduction which sets the scene historically and conceptually before summarizing the claims and arguments of the essays. (shrink)
Although experimental philosophers have been busy kindling fires under well-worn armchairs in areas of philosophy as varied as epistemology, normative ethics, theories of reference, and the free will controversy, the philosophy of art has remained largely untouched. As Denis Dutton observes: “There is precious little reference to empirical psychology in contemporary philosophical aesthetics, almost as if philosophers of art have wanted to protect their patch from incursions by psychologists.” I intend to show how techniques borrowed from experimental psychology can bring (...) light as well as warmth to the old debate over “What is art?”. (shrink)
Claims about people's intuitions have long played an important role in philosophical debates. The new field of experimental philosophy seeks to subject such claims to rigorous tests using the traditional methods of cognitive science – systematic experimentation and statistical analysis. Work in experimental philosophy thus far has investigated people's intuitions in philosophy of language, philosophy of mind, epistemology, and ethics. Although it is now generally agreed that experimental philosophers have made surprising discoveries about people's intuitions in each of these areas, (...) considerable disagreement remains about the philosophical significance of the key findings. Some have argued that work in experimental philosophy should be assessed by asking whether it can contribute to the kind of inquiry that is normally pursued within analytic philosophy, while others suggest that work in experimental philosophy is best understood as a contribution to a more traditional sort of philosophical inquiry that long predates the birth of analytic philosophy. (shrink)
Five experiments provide evidence for a class of ‘dual character concepts.’ Dual character concepts characterize their members in terms of both (a) a set of concrete features and (b) the abstract values that these features serve to realize. As such, these concepts provide two bases for evaluating category members and two different criteria for category membership. Experiment 1 provides support for the notion that dual character concepts have two bases for evaluation. Experiments 2-4 explore the claim that dual character concepts (...) have two different criteria for category membership. The results show that when an object possesses the appropriate concrete features, but does not fulfill the appropriate abstract value, it is judged to be a category member in one sense but not in another. Finally, Experiment 5 uses the theory developed here to construct artificial dual character concepts and examines whether participants react to these artificial concepts in the same way as naturally occurring dual character concepts. The present studies serve to define the nature of dual character concepts and distinguish them from other types of concepts (e.g., natural kind concepts), which share some, but not all of the properties of dual character concepts. More broadly, these phenomena suggest a normative dimension in everyday conceptual representation. (shrink)
The goal of this short paper is to show that esthetic adjectives—exemplified by “beautiful” and “elegant”—do not pattern stably on a range of linguistic diagnostics that have been used to taxonomize the gradability properties of adjectives. We argue that a plausible explanation for this puzzling data involves distinguishing two properties of gradable adjectives that have been frequently conflated: whether an adjective’s applicability is sensitive to a comparison class, and whether an adjective’s applicability is context-dependent.
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. (shrink)
Imaginative resistance refers to a phenomenon in which people resist engaging in particular prompted imaginative activities. Philosophers have primarily theorized about this phenomenon from the armchair. In this paper, we demonstrate the utility of empirical methods for investigating imaginative resistance. We present two studies that help to establish the psychological reality of imaginative resistance, and to uncover one factor that is significant for explaining this phenomenon but low in psychological salience: genre. Furthermore, our studies have the methodological upshot of showing (...) how empirical tools can complement the predominant armchair approach to philosophical aesthetics. (shrink)
Over recent years, the psychology of concepts has been rejuvenated by new work on prototypes, inventive ideas on causal cognition, the development of neo-empiricist theories of concepts, and the inputs of the budding neuropsychology of concepts. But our empirical knowledge about concepts has yet to be organized in a coherent framework. -/- In Doing without Concepts, Edouard Machery argues that the dominant psychological theories of concepts fail to provide such a framework and that drastic conceptual changes are required to make (...) sense of the research on concepts in psychology and neuropsychology. Machery shows that the class of concepts divides into several distinct kinds that have little in common with one another and that for this very reason, it is a mistake to attempt to encompass all known phenomena within a single theory of concepts. In brief, concepts are not a natural kind. Machery concludes that the theoretical notion of concept should be eliminated from the theoretical apparatus of contemporary psychology and should be replaced with theoretical notions that are more appropriate for fulfilling psychologists' goals. The notion of concept has encouraged psychologists to believe that a single theory of concepts could be developed, leading to useless theoretical controversies between the dominant paradigms of concepts. Keeping this notion would slow down, and maybe prevent, the development of a more adequate classification and would overshadow the theoretical and empirical issues that are raised by this more adequate classification. Anyone interested in cognitive science's emerging view of the mind will find Machery's provocative ideas of interest. (shrink)
Do fictions depend upon imagination? Derek Matravers argues against the mainstream view that they do, and offers an original account of what it is to read, listen to, or watch a narrative. He downgrades the divide between fiction and non-fiction, largely dispenses with the imagination, and in doing so illuminates a succession of related issues.
Experimental philosophy is the name for a recent movement whose participants use the methods of experimental psychology to probe the way people think about philosophical issues and then examine how the results of such studies bear on traditional philosophical debates. Given both the breadth of the research being carried out by experimental philosophers and the controversial nature of some of their central methodological assumptions, it is of no surprise that their work has recently come under attack. In this paper we (...) respond to some criticisms of experimental philosophy that have recently been put forward by Antti Kauppinen. Unlike the critics of experimental philosophy, we do not think the fledgling movement either will or should fall before it has even had a chance to rise up to explain what it is, what it seeks to do (and not to do), and exactly how it plans to do it. Filling in some of the salient details is the main goal of the present paper. (shrink)
This paper examines people's reasoning about identity continuity and its relation to previous research on how people value one-of-a-kind artifacts, such as artwork. We propose that judgments about the continuity of artworks are related to judgments about the continuity of individual persons because art objects are seen as physical extensions of their creators. We report a reanalysis of previous data and the results of two new empirical studies that test this hypothesis. The first study demonstrates that the mere categorization of (...) an object as “art” versus “a tool” changes people's intuitions about the persistence of those objects over time. In a second study, we examine some conditions that may lead artworks to be thought of as different from other artifacts. These observations inform both current understanding of what makes some objects one-of-a-kind as well as broader questions regarding how people intuitively think about the persistence of human agents. (shrink)
Researchers working on children's moral understanding maintain that the child's capacity to distinguish morality from convention shows that children regard moral violations as objectively wrong. Education in the moral domain. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press). However, one traditional way to cast the issue of objectivism is to focus not on conventionality, but on whether moral properties depend on our responses, as with properties like icky and fun. This paper argues that the moral/conventional task is inadequate for assessing whether children regard moral (...) properties as response-dependent. Unfortunately, children's understanding of response-dependent properties has been neglected in recent research. Two experiments are reported showing that children are more likely to treat properties like fun and icky as response-dependent than moral properties like good and bad. Hence, this helps support the claim that children are moral objectivists. (shrink)
We present a theory of human artistic experience and the neural mechanisms that mediate it. Any theory of art has to ideally have three components. The logic of art: whether there are universal rules or principles; The evolutionary rationale: why did these rules evolve and why do they have the form that they do; What is the brain circuitry involved? Our paper begins with a quest for artistic universals and proposes a list of ‘Eight laws of artistic experience’ -- a (...) set of heuristics that artists either consciously or unconsciously deploy to optimally titillate the visual areas of the brain. One of these principles is a psychological phenomenon called the peak shift effect: If a rat is rewarded for discriminating a rectangle from a square, it will respond even more vigorously to a rectangle that is longer and skinnier that the prototype. We suggest that this principle explains not only caricatures, but many other aspects of art. Example: An evocative sketch of a female nude may be one which selectively accentuates those feminine form-attributes that allow one to discriminate it from a male figure; a Boucher, a Van Gogh, or a Monet may be a caricature in ‘colour space’ rather than form space. Even abstract art may employ ‘supernormal’ stimuli to excite form areas in the brain more strongly than natural stimuli. Second, we suggest that grouping is a very basic principle. The different extrastriate visual areas may have evolved specifically to extract correlations in different domains , and discovering and linking multiple features into unitary clusters -- objects -- is facilitated and reinforced by direct connections from these areas to limbic structures. In general, when object-like entities are partially discerned at any stage in the visual hierarchy, messages are sent back to earlier stages to alert them to certain locations or features in order to look for additional evidence for the object . Finally, given constraints on allocation of attentional resources, art is most appealing if it produces heightened activity in a single dimension rather than redundant activation of multiple modules. This idea may help explain the effectiveness of outline drawings and sketches, the savant syndrome in autists, and the sudden emergence of artistic talent in fronto-temporal dementia. In addition to these three basic principles we propose five others, constituting a total of ‘eight laws of aesthetic experience’. (shrink)
Experimental philosophy is often presented as a new movement that avoids many of the difficulties that face traditional philosophy. This article distinguishes two views of experimental philosophy: a narrow view in which philosophers conduct empirical investigations of intuitions, and a broad view which says that experimental philosophy is just the colocation in the same body of (i) philosophical naturalism and (ii) the actual practice of cognitive science. These two positions are rarely clearly distinguished in the literature about experimental philosophy, both (...) pro and con. The article argues, first, that the broader view is the only plausible one; discussions of experimental philosophy should recognize that the narrow view is a caricature of experimental philosophy as it is currently done. It then shows both how objections to experimental philosophy are transformed and how positive recommendations can be provided by adopting a broad conception of experimental philosophy. (shrink)
This paper develops a sympathetic critique of recent experimental work on free will and moral responsibility. Section 1 offers a brief defense of the relevance of experimental philosophy to the free will debate. Section 2 reviews a series of articles in the experimental literature that probe intuitions about the "compatibility question"—whether we can be free and morally responsible if determinism is true. Section 3 argues that these studies have produced valuable insights on the factors that influence our judgments on the (...) compatibility question, but that their general approach suffers from significant practical and philosophical difficulties. Section 4 reviews experimental work addressing other aspects of the free will/moral responsibility debate, and section 5 concludes with a discussion of avenues for further research. (shrink)
Recent accounts of pretense have been underdescribed in a number of ways. In this paper, we present a much more explicit cognitive account of pretense. We begin by describing a number of real examples of pretense in children and adults. These examples bring out several features of pretense that any adequate theory of pretense must accommodate, and we use these features to develop our theory of pretense. On our theory, pretense representations are contained in a separate mental workspace, a Possible (...) World Box which is part of the basic architecture of the human mind. The representations in the Possible World Box can have the same content as beliefs. Indeed, we suggest that pretense representations are in the same representational ``code'' as beliefs and that the representations in the Possible World Box are processed by the same inference and UpDating mechanisms that operate over real beliefs. Our model also posits a Script Elaborator which is implicated in the embellishment that occurs in pretense. Finally, we claim that the behavior that is seen in pretend play is motivated not from a ``pretend desire'', but from a real desire to act in a way that ®ts the description being constructed in the Possible World Box. We maintain that this account can accommodate the central features of pretense exhibited in the examples of pretense, and we argue that the alternative accounts either can't accommodate or fail to address entirely some of the central features of pretense. q 2000 Elsevier Science B.V. All rights reserved. (shrink)
Experiences of art involve exercise of ordinary cognitive and perceptual capacities but in unique ways. These two features of experiences of art imply the mutual importance of aesthetics and cognitive science. Cognitive science provides empirical and theoretical analysis of the relevant cognitive capacities. Aesthetics thus does well to incorporate cognitive scientific research. Aesthetics also offers philosophical analysis of the uniqueness of the experience of art. Thus, cognitive science does well to incorporate the explanations of aesthetics. This paper explores this general (...) framework of expansionism : a research strategy that suggests that the explanatory goals and resources of both aesthetics and cognitive science should expand to include those of the other. Two relations are considered. First, what is the relation between aesthetics and more traditional cognitive science? Second, what is the relation between aesthetics and new developments in cognitive science that de-emphasize mental representation and emphasize body and action? (shrink)
Many philosophers have attempted to provide a solution to the paradox of fiction, a triad of sentences that lead to the conclusion that genuine emotional responses to fiction are irrational. We suggest that disagreement over the best response to this paradox stems directly from the formulation of the paradox itself. Our main goal is to show that there is an ambiguity regarding the word ‘exist’ throughout the premises of the paradox. To reveal this ambiguity, we display the diverse existential commitments (...) of several leading theories of emotion, and argue that none of the theories we consider are committed to notions of ‘exist’ employed by the paradox. We conclude that it is unclear whether or not there remains a paradox of fiction to be solved—rather than to be argued for—once this ambiguity is addressed. (shrink)
It is a very great honor to address my friends and colleagues as president of the American Society for Aesthetics, an organization that plays a unique role in a field that is, at once, a major traditional branch of philosophy and also central to disciplines often regarded as remote from philosophy, as well as depending crucially on their contributions.
Authors have a lot of leeway with regard to what they can make true in their story. In general, if the author says that p is true in the fiction we’re reading, we believe that p is true in that fiction. And if we’re playing along with the fictional game, we imagine that, along with everything else in the story, p is true. But there are exceptions to these general principles. Many authors, most notably Kendall Walton and Tamar Szabó Gendler, (...) have discussed apparent counterexamples when p is “morally deviant”. Many other statements that are conceptually impossible also seem to be counterexamples. In this paper I do four things. I survey the range of counterexamples, or at least putative counterexamples, to the principles. Then I look to explanations of the counterexamples. I argue, following Gendler, that the explanation cannot simply be that morally deviant claims are impossible. I argue that the distinctive attitudes we have towards moral propositions cannot explain the counterexamples, since some of the examples don’t involve moral concepts. And I put forward a proposed explanation that turns on the role of ‘higher-level concepts’, concepts that if they are satisfied are satisfied in virtue of more fundamental facts about the world, in fiction, and in imagination. (shrink)
arratives, fictional and factual, commonly raise in their audience suspense. A narrative lays out over time a sequence of events; and because the events of the narrative are not completely told all at once, questions arise for the audience which will be answered only later in the narrative’s telling. Will the transfigured panther-woman pounce on her rival as she walks home alone at night, hearing strange noises around her? Will Sam and Annie ever make their date at the top of (...) the Empire State Building? And the most classic question of all, Who dunnit?, or as it appears in its post-modern form, Who will do it? ‘This is the story of a murder. It hasn’t happened yet. But it will,’ Martin Amis writes at the beginning of London Fields. ‘I know the murderer, I know the murderee,’ and we’re soon told that the murderee is to be Nicola Six.1 But who will kill her? And why? (shrink)