Response-dependence theories have historically been very popular in aesthetics, and aesthetic response-dependence has motivated response-dependence in ethics. This chapter closely examines the prospects for such theories. It breaks this category down into dispositional and fittingness strands of response-dependence, corresponding to descriptive and normative ideal observer theories. It argues that the latter have advantages over the former but are not themselves without issue. Special attention is paid to the relationship between hedonism and response-dependence. The chapter also introduces two aesthetic properties that (...) lead to wrong kinds of reasons problems for aesthetic response-dependence: insightfulness and the capacity to change one’s perspective. These properties do not have obvious parallels in the ethical domain, and so present an obstacle for response-dependence even in aesthetics. The chapter ends by examining replies on behalf of the response-dependence theorist, ultimately suggesting that a restricted form of response-dependence is the most promising way forward for fans of such theories. (shrink)
This article puts pressure on moral motivational internalism and rejects normative motivational internalism by arguing that we should be aesthetic motivational externalists. Parallels between aesthetic and moral normativity give us new reason to doubt moral internalism. I address possible disanalogies, arguing that either they fail, or they succeed, but aren’t strong enough to underwrite a motivational difference between the domains. Furthermore, aesthetic externalism entails normative externalism, providing further presumptive evidence against moral internalism. I also make the case that, regardless of (...) these particular conclusions, examining different normative domains alongside each other is a fruitful way to move debates forward. (shrink)
Discussions of aesthetic reasons and normativity are becoming increasingly popular. This piece outlines six basic questions about aesthetic reasons, normativity, and value and discusses the space of possible answers to these questions. I divide the terrain into two groups of three questions each. First are questions about the shape of aesthetic reasons: what they favour, how strong they are, and where they come from. Second are relational questions about how aesthetic reasons fit into the wider normative landscape: whether they are (...) distinctive, what their normative status is, and how they interact with each other and with non-aesthetic reasons. This piece aims to provide a taxonomy to clarify and organise the burgeoning literature and to make a few concrete suggestions for avenues of future research. (shrink)
Book Review of Being for Beauty: Aesthetic Agency and Value, by Dominic McIver Lopes. This review summarizes the book's main thread of argument and Lopes' positive view, which he dubs the "network theory". It ends by reflecting on whether Lopes' account of aesthetic normativity is ultimately satisfactory.
It is commonly assumed that ‘ought’ implies ‘can’, that is, that if we ought to do something, then it must be the case that we can do it. It is a frequent quip about this thesis that any account must specify three things: what is meant by the ‘ought’, what is meant by the ‘implies’, and what is meant by the ‘can’. Something is missed, though, when we state the thesis in its shortened, three-word form. We overlook what it means (...) to do something. It is, I think, not mere coincidence that nobody has discussed this issue: It is very difficult to specify what it means to do something in the relevant sense. This paper is devoted to fleshing out one way of doing something that is a problem for the thesis. (shrink)
Those who want to deny the ‘ought implies can’ principle often turn to weakened views to explain ‘ought implies can’ phenomena. The two most common versions of such views are that ‘ought’ presupposes ‘can’, and that ‘ought’ conversationally implicates ‘can’. This paper will reject both views, and in doing so, present a case against any pragmatic view of ‘ought implies can’. Unlike much of the literature, I won't rely on counterexamples, but instead will argue that each of these views fails (...) on its own terms. ‘Ought’ and ‘can’ do not obey the negation test for presupposition, and they do not obey the calculability or the cancelability tests for conversational implicature. I diagnose these failures as partly a result of the importance of the contrapositive of ‘ought implies can’. I end with a final argument emphasizing the role the principle plays in moral thinking, and the fact that no pragmatic account can do it justice. (shrink)
Subtlety is a concept as deeply intertwined with aesthetic judgements as virtually any other. But it is not clear what makes subtlety a good property of an artwork, or indeed if it is one. In this paper, I explore this under-discussed issue. First, I spend some time setting out hallmarks of subtlety and discussing different ways in which subtlety might be valuable. I then go on to defend a particular view about why subtlety is aesthetically valuable, by thinking through why (...) heavy-handedness is aesthetically bad. In essence, subtlety is valuable because it promotes active engagement with the artwork, and heavy-handedness is bad because it forces us into too passive a role. I connect this to the role of agency and autonomy in artistic experience. Finally, I discuss some related aesthetic concepts, and expand the view of subtlety to cover borderline art forms, nature, and people themselves. (shrink)
This essay examines a recent line of thought in aesthetics that challenges realist-leaning aesthetic theories. According to this line of thought, aesthetic diversity and disagreement are good, and our aesthetic judgments, responses, and attachments are deeply personal and even identity-constituting. These facts are further used to support anti-realist theories of aesthetic normativity. I aim to achieve two goals: (1) to disentangle arguments concerning diversity, disagreement, and personality; and (2) to offer realist-friendly replies to all three.
My paper has two aims: to underscore the importance of differently time-indexed ‘ought implies can’ principles; and to apply this to the culpable inability problem. Sometimes we make ourselves unable to do what we ought, but in those cases, we may still fail to do what we ought. This is taken to be a serious problem for synchronic ‘ought implies can’ principles, with a simultaneous ‘ought’ and ‘can’. Some take it to support diachronic ‘ought implies can’, with a potentially temporally (...) distinct ‘ought’ and ‘can’. I will argue that this problem is not avoided by diachronic ‘ought implies can’. (shrink)
: In this commentary on Sinhababu’s Humean Nature I will explore three lines of inquiry. The first asks about the explanatory power of the Desire-Belief Theory of Reasoning, by way of wondering about how desires and beliefs combine with one another. The second question continues along these lines, asking about the further conditions Sinhababu places on reasoning and whether a theory of reasoning can be normatively neutral. The third points out the need for more clarity in his account of intention (...) by contrasting it with practical reasoning. Keywords: Desire; Belief; Humean Psychology; Intention; Practical Reasoning Meccanica e psicologia del ragionamento pratico Riassunto: In questo commento su Humean Nature di Neil Sinhababu intendo esplorare tre linee di indagine. La prima si interroga sul potere esplicativo della Desire-Belief Theory of Reasoning, indagando come desideri e credenze si combinano reciprocamente. La seconda prosegue su questa strada, interrogando le ulteriori condizioni che Sinhababu pone sul ragionamento e chiedendomi se una teoria del ragionamento possa essere normativamente neutrale. La terza individua il bisogno di maggiore chiarezza nella sua descrizione dell’intenzione, mostrandone le differenze rispetto al ragionamento pratico. Parole chiave: Desiderio; Credenza; Psicologia humeana; Intenzione; Ragionamento pratico. (shrink)
It’s interesting and a bit surprising how little attention philosophy has given to the status of emoji, those funny little symbols that punctuate text messages, Twitter, and other digital spaces. They have become ubiquitous, but maybe because they’re seen as frivolous or a “lower” form of communication, philosophy hasn’t paid them much mind. But they are an interesting aesthetic phenomenon. They are part language, part representational image. They are phenomenologically interesting in their effect on how we experience the written word. (...) They punctuate, accentuate, emphasize, and add flavor to our communication in ways that are difficult to achieve otherwise. It would not be ridiculous to say that they represent a genuine linguistic development—a change in conventional orthography, and of an almost unbelievably sudden and dramatic, even revolutionary, kind. (shrink)
Bimal Krishna Matilal (1935-1991) was a Harvard-educated Indian philosopher best known for his contributions to logic, but who also wrote on wide variety of topics, including metaethics. Unfortunately, the latter contributions have been overlooked. Engaging with Anglo-American figures such as Gilbert Harman and Bernard Williams, Matilal defends a view he dubs ‘pluralism.’ In defending this view he draws on a wide range of classical Indian sources: the Bhagavad-Gītā, Buddhist thinkers like Nāgārjuna, and classical Jaina concepts. This pluralist position is somewhere (...) between relativism and absolutist realism. Unlike the relativist, he argues that there is a genuinely universal morality; unlike the absolutist, he argues that there are multiple, but often conflicting and incommensurable, moral frameworks and ideals. This paper will explain his objections to relativism, as well as flesh out his suggestive remarks about his own pluralistic account. (shrink)
Aesthetics is the subject matter concerning, as a paradigm, fine art, but also the special, art-like status sometimes given to applied arts like architecture or industrial design or to objects in nature. It is hard to say precisely what is shared among this motley crew of objects (often referred to as aesthetic objects), but the aesthetic attitude is supposed to go some way toward solving this problem. It is, at the very least, the special point of view we take toward (...) an object that results in our having an aesthetic experience (an experience of, for example, beauty, sublimity, or even ugliness). Many aesthetic theories, however, have taken it to play a central role in defining the boundary between aesthetic and non-aesthetic objects. These theories, usually called aesthetic attitude theories, argue that when we take the aesthetic attitude toward an object, we thereby make it an aesthetic object. (shrink)
Are we able to do everything we ought to do? According to the important but controversial Ought Implies Can principle, the answer is yes. -/- In this book Alex King sheds some much-needed light on this principle. She argues that it is flawed because we are obligated to perform some actions that we cannot perform, and goes on to present a suggested theory for anyone who would deny the principle. She examines the traditional motivations for Ought Implies Can, and finds (...) that they to a large degree do not support it. Using examples like gay rights, addiction, and disability, she argues that we can preserve many of the motivations that led us to the principle by thinking more about what we, as individuals or institutions, can fairly demand of ourselves and each other. (shrink)