I am grateful to my critics for their careful attention to Art and Art-Attempts. Here I’ll respond to their central challenges.1As David Davies notes, I argue that Jerrold Levinson’s historical-intentional definition of art, despite the emphasis it places on intentions, does not pass my test of taking intention-dependence seriously. This is because it construes art-making as an activity that cannot fail: if we accept Levinson’s picture, every art-attempt is guaranteed to be a success. Davies suggests that, if we understand art-making (...) along the same lines as lying, Levinsonian art-attempts can, in fact, fail, just as lie-attempts can.Before addressing Davies’s defense, let me clarify my criticism. Is making... (shrink)
Christy Mag Uidhir’s Art and Art-Attempts begins from two deceptively simple observations: artworks are the product of intentions, and intentions are the kinds of things that can fail to be realized successfully.1 Drawing on these observations, he argues that most contemporary theories of art must be rejected because they are not substantively intention-dependent: that is, they do not account for the fact that an attempt to make an artwork can fail.From his view that artworks must be the product (...) of art-attempts that are subject to failure, Mag Uidhir derives implications for many domains in the philosophy of art. He argues that artworks cannot be abstract objects, since abstract objects cannot... (shrink)
Christy Mag Uidhir has recently argued (a) that there is no in principle aesthetic difference between a live performance and a recording of that performance, and (b) that the proper aesthetic object is a type which is instantiated by the performance and potentially repeatable when recordings are played back. This paper considers several objections to (a) and finds them lacking. I then consider improvised music, a subject that Mag Uidhir explicitly brackets in his discussion. Improvisation reveals problems (...) with (b), because the performance-event and the performance-type are distinct but equally proper aesthetic objects. (shrink)
According to the orthodox view, photographic artworks are abstract objects. This view, however, has recently been challenged by Christy Mag Uidhir. In his article ‘Photographic Art: An Ontology Fit to Print’, he argues in favour of a nominalist construal of photographic artworks. My goal is to show that Mag Uidhir’s argument is unpersuasive.
One of the most striking features of Christy Mag Uidhir’s rich and challenging book is the contrast between the modesty of its professed aim and the controversial nature of its professed conclusions. The aim is to investigate “what follows from taking intention-dependence seriously as a substantive necessary condition for being art.”1 The concern is not to give a theory of art but to clarify “the nature of the art-theoretic space that any art theory must occupy so as to (...) be minimally viable as such.”2 Since, as Mag Uidhir points out, almost everyone who claims to be doing theory of art subscribes to the intention-dependence of artworks as contrasted with natural objects, we might expect only ecumenical conclusions... (shrink)
Although few philosophers agree about what it is for something to be art, most, if not all, agree on one thing: art must be in some sense intention dependent. Art and Art-Attempts is about what follows from taking intention dependence seriously as a substantive necessary condition for something's being art. Christy Mag Uidhir argues that from the assumption that art must be the product of intentional action, along with basic action-theoretic account of attempts (goal-oriented intention-directed activity), follows a (...) host of sweeping implications for philosophical enquiry into the nature of art and its principal relata such as authorship, art forms, and art ontology: e.g., 1) an informative distinction between art, non-art, and failed-art that any viable theory of art must capture, 2) a far more productive minimal framework for authorship not only capable of systematically addressing issues of collective authorship appropriation, etc. but also one according to which artists just are authors, 3) a coherent and structurally precise account of art forms based upon the relation between artists, artworks, and the sortal properties thereof, and 4) a unified and far less metaphysically suspect ontology of art according to which if there are such things as artworks, then artworks must be concrete things. Ultimately, Mag Uidhir aims neither to propose nor to defend any particular, precise answer to the question "What is art?" Instead, he shows the ways in which taking intention-dependence seriously as a substantive necessary condition for being art can be profoundly revelatory, and perhaps even radically revisionary, as to the scope and limits of what any particular, precise answer to such a question could viably be. -/- **Winner of The American Society for Aesthetics Outstanding Monograph Award 2013**. (shrink)
In Art and Art-Attempts, Christy Mag Uidhir argues that an artwork must be the product of an art-attempt that could, in principle, have failed.1 Because being the product of an attempt is a causal-intentional notion, artworks must be able to stand in causal relations. As many have observed, abstract objects, standardly construed, cannot stand in causal relations. Therefore, Mag Uidhir says, artworks, whether repeatable or not, cannot be abstract objects.Theorists including Sally Haslanger, Barry Smith, and Amie Thomasson (...) have argued that the standard division of ontological space into abstract and concrete objects is inadequate to account for socially constructed objects: there are plenty of things, like races... (shrink)
Art and Art-Attempts by Christy Mag Uidhir is an excellent book about the philosophy of art.1 It is full of insight. It is brilliantly precise. Indeed, it is a model of analytic precision. This discussion will be concerned with the role of the intention of the artist in art, which is central to the book, and Mag Uidhir’s discussion of abstracta and instantiation. I shall argue that intention should be replaced with choice and that abstracta should be (...) replaced with exemplar representation to improve his account. I conclude that choice in art and focus on exemplars play a special role in aesthetic education.Here is the basic idea of the role of intention of the artist in the book:Taking intention-dependence seriously... (shrink)
Books Christy Mag Uidhir, Art andObjects [Elisa Caldarola, p. 182] • Julie Jaffee Nagel, Melodies of the Mind. Connections Between Psychoanalisis and Music [Michele Gardini, p. 185] • Dominic McIver Lopes, Beyond Art [Filippo Focosi, p. 187] • Annemarie Gethmann-Siefert, Herta Nagl-Docekal, Erzsébet Ròsza, Elisabeth Weisser-Lohmann, Hegels Ästhetik als Theorie der Moderne [Lorenzo Leonardo Pizzichemi, p. 190] Comments Toward an Integrated Science of Aesthetics. Getting Rid of the Main Misunderstandings in Evolutionary Aesthetics [Mariagrazia Portera, p. 194].
I argue that what’s so bad (qua film fiction) about the cinematic practice of actor-character race-mismatching—be it the historically infamous and intuitively repugnant practice of blackface or one of its more contemporary kin—is that the extent to which film-fictions employ such practices is typically the extent to which such film-fictions unrealistically depict facts about race. More precisely, I claim that race-mismatching film fictions—understood as a species of unrealistic fiction—are prima facie inconsistent fictions with the capacity to mislead their audiences about (...) certain morally relevant actual-world states-of-affairs and thus, prima facie aesthetically, epistemically, and morally defective. (shrink)
Claims that pornography cannot be art typically depend on controversial claims about essential value differences (moral, aesthetic) between pornography and art. In this paper, I offer a value-neutral exclusionary claim, showing pornography to be descriptively at odds with art. I then show how my view is an improvement on similar claims made by Jerrold Levinson. Finally I draw parallels between art and pornography and art and advertising as well as show that my view is consistent with our typical usage of (...) the term “pornographic art.”. (shrink)
For the most part, the Aesthetic Theory of Art—any theory of art claiming that the aesthetic is a descriptively necessary feature of art—has been repudiated, especially in light of what are now considered traditional counterexamples. We argue that the Aesthetic Theory of Art can instead be far more plausibly recast by abandoning aesthetic-feature possession by the artwork for a claim about aesthetic-concept possession by the artist. This move productively re-frames and re-energizes the debate surrounding the relationship between art and the (...) aesthetic. That is, we claim Aesthetic Theory so re-framed suggests that the aesthetic might have a central and substantial explanatory role to play within both traditional philosophical enquiries as well as recent and more empirical enquiries into the psychological and cognitive aspects of art and its practice. Finally, we discuss the directions this new work might take—by tying art theory to investigations of the distinctive sensorimotor capacities of expert artists, their specialized aesthetic conceptual schemata, and the ways these distinctive capacities and schemata contribute to the production of artworks. (shrink)
The primary purpose of depictive works of pornography, we take it, is sexual arousal through sexually explicit representations; what we callprototypical pornography satisfies those aims through the adoption of a ceteris paribus maximally realistic depictive style. Given that the purpose of sexual arousal seems best fulfilled by establishing the most robust connections between the viewer and the depictive subject, we find it curious that not all works of pornography aspire to prototypical status. Accordingly, we target for philosophical scrutiny several non-standard (...) but putatively pornographic forms: Tijuana Bibles, hentai manga, and slash-fiction. We find that works of these genres possess certain depictively or fictively oriented properties that appear at least prima facie incompatible with prototypical pornography, and thereby to pose two pressing questions that anyprima facie viable analysis of pornography must answer: the depiction question and the fiction question. By answering these questions, we can not only arrive at a deeper understanding of the aims of pornography and the reasons for which significant sub-genres of pornography might diverge from the prototypical ideal, but also perhaps better understand what lies at pornography’s edge, and so better understand the ways in which pornography might relate to what lies beyond. (shrink)
Most mass-art comics (e.g., “superhero” comics) are collectively produced, that is, different people are responsible for different production elements. As such, the more disparate comic production roles we begin to regard as significantly or uniquely contributory, the more difficult questions of comic authorship become, and the more we view various distinct production roles as potentially constitutive is the more we must view comic authorship as potentially collective authorship. Given the general unreliability of intuitions with respect to collective authorship (coupled with (...) our general unfamiliarity with the medium), we must look to find a principle of comic authorship out of which authorship questions can be settled for comics simpliciter. Furthermore, any such principle found must also be capable of grounding a principled distinction between collective production and collective authorship; should this distinction be absent, any proper manner of framing the central descriptive and evaluative questions for comics must likewise be absent. Quite obviously we need a theory of comic authorship. To this end, I suggest how we should proceed and exactly what such a theory should look like. (shrink)
Abstract: There is a long tradition of trying to analyze art either by providing a definition (essentialism) or by tracing its contours as an indefinable, open concept (anti-essentialism). Both art essentialists and art anti-essentialists share an implicit assumption of art concept monism. This article argues that this assumption is a mistake. Species concept pluralism—a well-explored position in philosophy of biology—provides a model for art concept pluralism. The article explores the conditions under which concept pluralism is appropriate, and argues that they (...) obtain for art. Art concept pluralism allows us to recognize that different art concepts are useful for different purposes, and what has been feuding definitions can be seen as characterizations of specific art concepts. (shrink)
I claim that caricature is an epistemically defective depiction. More precisely, when employed in service to some epistemic uptake, I claim that caricature can have a non-negligible epistemic effect only for a less than ideally rational audience with certain cognitive biases. An ideally rational audience, however, would take all caricature to be what I refer to as fairground caricature, i.e., an interesting or entertaining form of depiction that is at best only trivially revelatory. I then argue that any medium (or (...) genre) substantially employing caricature (or standardly featuring or prescribing its employment) in service to some epistemic uptake is to that extent an epistemically defective medium (e.g., beliefs informed by works specific to that medium are to that extent unwarranted). I then show the editorial cartoon to be just such an epistemically defective medium. (shrink)
In this paper, we develop an analysis of unrealistic fiction that captures the everyday sense of ‘unrealistic’. On our view, unrealistic fictions are a species of inconsistent fictions, but fictions for which such inconsistency, given the supporting role we claim played by genre, needn’t be a critical defect. We first consider and reject an analysis of unrealistic fiction as fiction that depicts or describes unlikely events; we then develop our own account and make an initial statement of it: unrealistic fictions (...) are those that invite us to believe something false. We further develop this account and restate it in terms of the notion of “import-export inconsistency.” That is, unrealistic fictions invite us to import certain propositions true in the actual world then invite us to export propositions entailing the negation of those imported. Finally, we consider whether for fiction being unrealistic is always an aesthetic flaw. (shrink)
I propose a minimal account of authorship that specifies the fundamental nature of the author-relation and its minimal domain composition in terms of a three-place causal-intentional relation holding between agents and sort-relative works. I contrast my account with the minimal account tacitly held by most authorship theories, which is a two-place relation holding between agents and works simpliciter. I claim that only my view can ground productive and informative principled distincitons between collective production and collective authorship.
Most artworks—or at least most among those standardly subject to philosophical scrutiny—appear to be singular, stand-alone works. However, some artworks (indeed, perhaps a good many) are by contrast best viewed in terms of some larger grouping or ordering of artworks. i.e., as a series. The operative art-theoretic notion of series in which I am interested here is that of an individual and distinct artwork that is itself non-trivially composed of a non-trivial sequence of artworks (e.g., Walter de Maria’s Statement Series, (...) Krzysztof Kieslowski’s Three Colors)—as opposed to an art-historically informative or art critically productive thematically, stylistically, or formally unified ordering or grouping of individual and distinct artworks within an artist’s larger body of work (e.g., Kiki Smith’s Blue Print series, Dan Flavin’s Monuments to V. Tatlin series, Jeff Koons’ Made in Heaven series, Robert Rauschenberg’s Tribute 21 series). Given this, my aim is simply to sketch a minimal descriptive and classificatory framework for serial art within which certain informative distinctions may be made and further philosophical enquiry may productively take place. (shrink)
Cover versions form a loose but identifiable category of tracks and performances. We distinguish four kinds of covers and argue that they mark important differences in the modes of evaluation that are possible or appropriate for each: mimic covers, which aim merely to echo the canonical track; rendition covers, which change the sound of the canonical track; transformative covers, which diverge so much as to instantiate a distinct, albeit derivative song; and referential covers, which not only instantiate a distinct song, (...) but for which the new song is in part about the original song. In order to allow for the very possibility of transformative and referential covers, we argue that a cover is characterized by relation to a canonical track rather than merely by being a new instance of a song that had been recorded previously. (shrink)
Most theories of suspense implicitly or explicitly have as a background assumption what I call suspense realism, i.e., that suspense is itself a genuine, distinct emotion. I claim that for a theory of suspense to entail suspense realism is for that theory to entail a contradiction, and so, we ought instead assume a background of suspense eliminativism, i.e., that there is no such genuine, distinct emotion that is the emotion of suspense. More precisely, I argue that i) any suspense realist (...) (...) theory must resolve the paradox of suspense, ii) if suspense is itself a genuine, distinct emotion, then in order to resolve the paradox of suspense it must be a radically sui generis genuine, distinct emotion, iii) according to any minimally adequate theory of the emotions, there can be no radically sui generis emotion, and so iv) there can be no genuine, distinct emotion that is the emotion of suspense. Quite simply, if a theory of suspense must entail suspense realism, then we ought to be eliminativists about suspense. This I call the Paradox of Suspense Realism, which I take to constitute a productive viability condition for any theory of suspense, i.e., any viable theory of suspense must be mutatis mutandis compatible with suspense eliminativism. (shrink)
I consider the field of aesthetics to be at its most productive and engaging when adopting a broadly philosophically informative approach to its core issues (e.g., shaping and testing putative art theoretic commitments against the relevant standard models employed in philosophy of language, metaphysics, and philosophy of mind) and to be at its most impotent and bewildering when cultivating a philosophically insular character (e.g., selecting interpretative, ontological, or conceptual models solely for fit with pre-fixed art theoretic commitments). For example, when (...) philosophical aesthetics tends toward insularity, we shouldn’t be surprised to find standard art-ontological categories incongruous with those standardly employed in contemporary metaphysics. Of course, when contemporary metaphysics tends to ignore aesthetic and art theoretic concerns, perhaps we likewise shouldn’t be surprised to find the climate of contemporary metaphysics inhospitable for a theory of art. While this may seem to suggest at least a prima facie tension between our basic art theoretic commitments considered from within philosophical aesthetics and our standard ontological commitments considered from without, I think any perceived tension or antagonism largely due to metaphysicians and aestheticians (at least implicitly) assuming there to be but two available methodological positions with respect to the relationship between contemporary metaphysics and philosophical aesthetics (in the relevant overlap areas). I call these two opposing views the Deference View and the Independence View. I argue that either view looks to lead to what I call the Paradox of Standards. (shrink)
A standard art-ontological position is to construe repeatable artworks as abstract objects that admit multiple concrete instances. Since photographic artworks are putatively repeatable, the ontology of photographic art is by default modelled after standard repeatable-work ontology. I argue, however, that the construal of photographic artworks as abstracta mistakenly ignores photography’s printmaking genealogy, specifically its ontological inheritance. More precisely, I claim that the products of printmaking media (prints) minimally must be construed in a manner consistent with basic print ontology, the most (...) plausible model of which looks decidedly nominalist (what I call the relevant similarity model) and that as such, photographic artworks must be likewise construed, not as abstracta but as individual and distinct concreta. That is, the correct ontological account of photographic art must be one according to which photographic artworks are individual and distinct concrete artworks. In the end, I show that the ontology of photographic art resists the standard repeatable-work model because the putative repeatability of photographic artworks is upon closer inspection nothing more than the relevant similarity relation between individual and distinct photographic prints. (shrink)
An object being non-art appears only trivially informative. Some non-art objects, however, could be saliently 'almost' art, and therefore objects for which being non-art is non-trivially informative. I call these kinds of non-art objects 'failed-art' objects—non-art objects aetiologically similar to art-objects, diverging only in virtue of some relevant failure. I take failed-art to be the right sort of thing, to result from the right sort of action, and to have the right sort of history required to be art, but to (...) be non-art by having failure where being art requires success. I assume that for something to be art that thing must be the product of intention-directed action. I then offer an account of attempts that captures the success conditions governing the relationship between intention-directed actions and their products. From this, I claim that to be failed-art is to be the product of a failed art-attempt, i.e., to be non-art as the result of the particular way in which that art-attempt failed. An art-attempt I take to be an attempt with success conditions, that, if satisfied, entail the satisfaction of the conditions for being art—whatever those may be. To be art, then, is to be the product of a successful art-attempt. As such, any art theory incompatible with my account of failed-art is an art theory for which the notions of success and failure do not matter, and therefore an art theory for which being art needn't be substantively intention-dependent. So, any theory of art unable to accommodate my account of failed-art is _ipso facto_ false. (shrink)
Motivating philosophical interest in the notion of suspense requires comparatively little appeal to what goes on in our ordinary work-a-day lives. After all, with respect to our everyday engagements with the actual world suspense appears to be largely absent—most of us seem to lead lives relatively suspense-free. The notion of suspense strikes us as interesting largely because of its significance with respect to our engagements with (largely fictional) narratives. So, when I indicate a preference for suspense novels, I indicate a (...) preference not only for reading novels with certain narrative structures or content but for novels that in virtue of their narrative structure or content, when properly engaged, evoke a .. (shrink)
This article claims that there is no in principle aesthetic difference between a live performance and a recording of that performance, and as such, performance individuation ought to be revised to reflect this. We ought to regard performances as types able to be instantiated both by live performances and by recordings of those performances, or we ought to abandon performances qua aesthetic objects.
Bill Seeley suggests that what follows from research into crossmodal perception for expression and emotion in the arts is that there is an emotional contour (i.e., a contour constitutive of the content of an emotion and potentially realizable across a range of media). As a response of sorts, I speculate as to what this might hold for philosophical and empirical enquiry into expression and emotion across the arts as well as into the nature of the emotions themselves.
Marguerite Clark as Topsy in Uncle Tom’s Cabin (1918). Charlton Heston as Ramon Miguel Vargas in Touch of Evil (1958). Mizuo Peck as Sacagawea in Night at the Museum (2006). From the early days of cinema to its classic-era through to the contemporary Hollywood age, the history of cinema is replete with films in which the racial (or ethnic) background of a principal character does not match the background of the actor or actress portraying that character. I call this actor-character (...) race-mismatching. In this paper, I mainly explore whether a coherent and plausible account can be given of race-matching in terms of purely aesthetic considerations, i.e., an account that absent moral considerations can nevertheless coherently and productively answer the following questions: can race-mismatching itself ever be an aesthetic defect of a film, and if so, under what conditions can race-mismatching be such an aesthetic defect. I claim that once we have in place a precise account of the nature of race-matching, it becomes clear that films for which race-mismatching appears to constitute an aesthetic defect are actually films with which properly engaging requires audiences to satisfy inconsistent epistemic conditions. In such cases, I claim, race mismatching constitutes an aesthetic defect for the film-fiction because—in virtue of the inconsistency underwritten by the race-mismatching—that film-fiction undermines the very uptake it prescribes. I then argue that if what’s defective about race-mismatching aesthetically is predicated on something being defective about race-mismatching epistemically, then if there is nothing in principle defective about race-mismatching epistemically, then so too for mismatching aesthetically (and so too for mismatching morally). From this I conclude that reasons stemming only from race-matching/mismatching itself lack the normative force sufficient to warrant the claim that film-fictions ought not race-mismatch. (shrink)
In this paper I target the relationship between two prints that are roughly qualitatively identical and share a causal history. Is one an artwork if and only if the other is an artwork? To answer this, I propose two competing principles. The first claims that certain intentional relations must be shared by the prints (e.g., editioned prints vs. non-editioned prints). The second, which I endorse, appeals only to minimal print ontology, claiming that the two prints need only be what I (...) call 'relevantly similar' to one other. There are no trumping features over and above relevant similarity. For any pairwise comparison of relevantly similar prints, one print being an artwork is both necessary and sufficient for the other print being an artwork. (shrink)
Art and Abstract Objects presents a lively philosophical exchange between the philosophy of art and the core areas of philosophy. The standard way of thinking about non-repeatable (single-instance) artworks such as paintings, drawings, and non-cast sculpture is that they are concrete (i.e., material, causally efficacious, located in space and time). Da Vinci's Mona Lisa is currently located in Paris. Richard Serra's Tilted Arc is 73 tonnes of solid steel. Johannes Vermeer's The Concert was stolen in 1990 and remains missing. Michaelangelo's (...) David was attacked with a hammer in 1991. By contrast, the standard way of thinking about repeatable (multiple-instance) artworks such as novels, poems, plays, operas, films, symphonies is that they must be abstract (i.e., immaterial, causally inert, outside space-time): consider the current location of Melville's Moby Dick, the weight of Yeats' "Sailing to Byzantium", or how one might go about stealing Puccini's La Boheme or vandalizing Mozart's Piano Concerto No. 9. Although novels, poems, and symphonies may appear radically unlike stock abstract objects such as numbers, sets, and propositions, most philosophers of art think that for the basic intuitions, practices, and conventions surrounding such works to be preserved, repeatable artworks must be abstracta. -/- This volume examines how philosophical enquiry into art might itself productively inform or be productively informed by enquiry into abstracta taking place within not just metaphysics but also the philosophy of mathematics, epistemology, philosophy of science, and philosophy of mind and language. While the contributors chiefly focus on the relationship between philosophy of art and contemporary metaphysics with respect to the overlap issue of abstracta, they provide a methodological blueprint from which scholars working both within and beyond philosophy of art can begin building responsible, mutually informative, and productive relationships between their respective fields. (shrink)
Naïve realism is often characterized, by its proponents and detractors alike, as the view that for a subject to undergo a perceptual experience is for her to stand in a simple two-place acquaintance relation toward an object. However, two of the leading defenders of naïve realism, John Campbell and Bill Brewer, have thought it necessary to complicate this picture, claiming that a third relatum is needed to account for various possible differences between distinct visual experiences of the same object. This, (...) I argue, is a mistake. Once it is acknowledged that a subject’s visual experience acquaints her with more than just a single object, all of the relevant facts can be explained from within the simpler naïve realist framework. (shrink)