At the heart of aesthetics lie fundamental questions about value in art and the objectivity of aesthetic valuation. A theory of aesthetic value must explain how the properties of artworks contribute to the values derived from contemplating and appreciating works of art. When someone passes judgment on a work of art, just what is it that is happening, and how can such judgments be criticized and defended?In this concise survey, intended for advanced undergraduate students of aesthetics, Alan Goldman focuses on (...) the question of aesthetic value, using many practical examples from painting, music, and literature to make his case. Although he treats a wide variety of views, he argues for a nonrealist view of aesthetic value, showing that the personal element can never be factored out of evaluative aesthetic judgments and explaining why this is so. At the same time, he argues for certain common effects of highly esteemed artworks.Along the way Goldman considers such key topics as interpretation, representation, expression, and taste. His text will be a valuable contribution to the teaching of aesthetics as well as to the understanding of these topics on the part of students and scholars in philosophy and the arts. (shrink)
To say that an object is beautiful or ugly is seemingly to refer to a property of the object. But it is also to express a positive or negative response to it, a set of aesthetic values, and to suggest that others ought to respond in the same way. Such judg- ments are descriptive, expressive, and normative or prescriptive at once. These multiple features are captured well by Humean accounts that analyze the judgments as ascribing relational properties. To say that (...) an object is beautiful is to say, in part, that it is such as to elicit a response expressing pleasure in certain observers. The observers in question must not be ignorant, biased, insensitive, or of poor taste, and they must not base their evaluations on aesthetically irrelevant properties of the objects they judge. The reference to the object's "being such . . ." captures the objective side of the relation; refer- ence to the pleasurable response captures the expressive function of these judgments; and the ideal properties of the observers suggest that others ought to judge in the same way. (shrink)
Part I. Philosophy of novels. 1. Introduction: philosophical content and literary value -- 2. Interpreting novels -- 3. The sun also rises: incompatible interpretations -- 4. The appeal of the mystery -- Part II. Philosophy in novels. 5. Moral development in Pride and prejudice -- 6. Huckleberry Finn and moral motivation -- 7. What we learn about rules from The cider house rules -- 8. Nostromo and the fragility of the self.
This paper defends strong internalism about reasons, the view that reasons must relate to pre-existing motivational states, from several kinds of counterexamples, supposed desire independent reasons, that have been proposed. A central distinction drawn is that between there being a reason and an agent's having a reason. For an agent to have an F reason, she must be F-minded. Reasons, as what motivate us, are states of affairs and not themselves desires or motivational states, but they must connect to existing (...) motivational states. It has been claimed that rationality itself requires us to recognize certain reasons independent of our desires, that we acquire new desires by learning what is valuable, by acquiring desire-independent reasons to pursue certain values. It is claimed also that prudential and moral reasons are desire independent. By offering an account of rationality as coherence, by appealing to broader concerns as opposed to specific desires, and by appealing to the distinction noted above, the paper exposes weaknesses in recent arguments for desire independent reasons by Millgram, Smith, Korsgaard, and Searle. the reasons they propose can be interpreted as internal (not desire independent) or dismissed as nonexistent. (shrink)
Life's Values offers new analyses of the nature of pleasure, happiness, well-being, and meaning in life. Recognizing how individuals have different priorities, Goldman explains what is of ultimate value in our lives and argues that making our desires rational - relevantly informed of what it's like to satisfy them - maximizes well-being.
Peter Kivy and Noël Carroll advocate a narrow view of aesthetic experience according to which it consists mainly in attention to formal properties. Excluded are cognitive and moral properties. I defend the broader view that includes the latter properties. I argue first that cognition and moral assessment can be inseparable in experience from grasp of form and expressiveness. Second, Kivy and Carroll must extend the notion of form itself beyond ordinary usage to accommodate acknowledged aesthetic experience. Third, the broad view (...) has a more impressive historical lineage than the narrow view. Fourth, aesthetic experience is appreciation of aesthetic value, and the latter is more plausibly analyzed in a broad way. (shrink)
Criteria for a successful theory of punishment include first, that it specify a reasonable limit to punishments in particular cases, and second, that it allow benefits to outweigh costs in a penal institution.It is argued that traditional utilitarian and retributive theories fail to satisfy both criteria, and that they cannot be coherently combined so as to do so. Retributivism specifies a reasonable limit in its demand that punishment equal crime, but this limit fails to allow benefits to outweigh costs of (...) punishing. Utilitarians demand the latter but cannot guarantee the former. Combinations continue to violate one requirement or the other. (shrink)
As a preliminary to the justification of equal opportunity, we require a few words on the concept. An opportunity is a chance to attain some goal or obtain some benefit. More precisely, it is the lack of some obstacle or obstacles to the attainment of some goal or benefit. Opportunities are equal in some specified or understood sense when persons face roughly the same obstacles or obstacles of roughly the same difficulty of some specified or understood sort. In different contexts (...) we might have different sorts of benefits or obstacles in mind. But in the current social context, and in the context of this discussion, we refer to educational and occupational opportunities, chances to attain the benefits of higher education and of socially and economically desirable positions, benefits assumed to be desired by many or most individuals, other things being equal. And we generally divide obstacles into two broad classes: those imposed by the social system or by other persons in the society, for example, the hardships of life in the lower economic classes or barriers from prejudices based on race, sex, or ethnic background; and those imposed by natural disabilities, for example, low intelligence or lack of talents. The initial question is whether a moral society is obligated to create equality in opportunities in the senses just defined. I shall assume here initially that there is some such obligation on the part of society or the state, although I shall specify its nature and limits more precisely below. With the exception of certain libertarians, almost everyone, liberal and conservative alike, agrees in this assumption. (shrink)
While objective values need not be intrinsically motivating, need not actually motivate us, they would determine what we ought to pursue and protect. They would provide reasons for actions. Objective values would come in degrees, and more objective value would provide stronger reasons. It follows that, if objective value exists, we ought to maximize it in the world. But virtually no one acts with that goal in mind. Furthermore, objective value would exist independently of our subjective valuings. But we have (...) no way of measuring amounts of such values independently of the ways we value objects. While a subjectivist can account for mistaken values, a fully impersonal viewpoint, from which objective values would appear, seems instead to cause all values to disappear. Nor does the moral point of view, which requires more impartiality than agents usually exhibit, reveal fully objective values. The paper closes with an examination of the most widely endorsed candidates for states having positive and negative objective values: pleasures and pains. It concludes again that, once we adjust for worthiness of the object and desert of the subject for such states, there is no way to measure their supposed objective value. (shrink)
Rules proliferate; some are kept with a bureaucratic stringency bordering on the absurd, while others are manipulated and ignored in ways that injure our sense of justice. Under what conditions should we make exceptions to rules, and when should they be followed despite particular circumstances? The two dominant models in the literature on rules are the particularist account and that which sees the application of rules as normative. Taking a position that falls between these two extremes, Alan Goldman provides a (...) systematic framework to clarify when we need to follow rules in our moral, legal and prudential decisions, and when we ought not to do so. The book distinguishes among various types of rules; it illuminates concepts such as integrity, self-interest and self-deception; and finally, it provides an account of ordinary moral reasoning without rules. This book will be of great interest to advanced students and professionals working in philosophy, law, decision theory and the social sciences. (shrink)
The answer to the title question is “No.” The first section argues, using the example of Huckleberry Finn, that rational agents need not be motivated by their explicit judgments of rightness and wrongness. Section II rejects a plausible argument to the conclusion that rational agents must have some moral concerns. The third section clarifies the relevant concept of irrationality and argues that moral incoherence does not equate with this common relevant concept. Section IV questions a rational requirement for prudential concern (...) and whether a requirement for moral concern would follow from it. Section V examines the rationality of amoralists and partial amoralists, and Sect. VI closes with speculation on why there might seem to be a rational requirement to be morally motivated. (shrink)
Definitions of stronger and weaker versions of physical realism are offered, The first relating to the existence of physical objects and the second to the independence of their properties. It is argued that recent debates about the commensurability and convergence of scientific theories and the causal theory of reference are irrelevant to the truth of these theses, Although their proponents seem to think them linked. It is then argued that support for realist positions must be inductive. Such support is provided (...) for both the weaker and stronger theses. (shrink)
This paper defends strong internalism about reasons, the view that reasons must relate to pre-existing motivational states, from several kinds of counterexamples, supposed desire independent reasons, that have been proposed. A central distinction drawn is that between there being a reason and an agent’s having a reason. For an agent to have an F reason, she must be F-minded. Reasons, as what motivate us, are states of affairs and not themselves desires or motivational states, but they must connect to existing (...) motivational states. It has been claimed that rationality itself requires us to recognize certainreasons independent of our desires, that we acquire new desires by learning what is valuable, by acquiring desire-independent reasons to pursue certain values. It is claimed also that prudential and moral reasons are desire independent. By offering an account of rationality as coherence, by appealing to broader concerns as opposed to specific desires, and by appealing to the distinction noted above, the paper exposes weaknesses in recent arguments for desire independent reasons by Millgram, Smith, Korsgaard, and Searle. The reasons they propose can be interpreted as internal or dismissed as nonexistent. (shrink)
The idea that a just political system must ignore or nullify socially caused initial advantages in competing for positions and other social benefits is as old as political philosophy itself. Plato called for social mobility among his classes so that all could gravitate toward the classes for which their temperaments naturally suited them. The idea that the system must take positive steps to correct for these differences among individuals is likewise as old as the concept of public education, the supposed (...) great equalizer. But the claim that society must correct also for natural differences among individuals – differences in intelligence, talents, beauty, and physical prowess – is far more recent, having been articulated most forcefully by Rawls. The reasoning underlying this further step toward a more radical notion of equal opportunity appeals to the fact that natural differences are equally arbitrary from a moral point of view as a basis for differential rewards as are socially caused differences. A person no more deserves to be born smart than rich. Why then should the former but not the latter be allowed to influence future benefits and rewards? A negative answer, however, creates a tension within a liberal theory of justice between the demand to nullify natural differences, or to use them to the benefit of those least well endowed, and the demand to respect distinct individuals that supposedly grounds such a theory. (shrink)