Is ontologizing about art rightly held accountable to artistic practice, and, if so, how? Julian Dodd argues against such accountability. His target is “local descriptivism,” a meta-ontological principle that he contrasts with meta-ontological realism. The local descriptivist thinks that folk-theoretic beliefs implicit in our practices somehow determine the ontological characters of artworks. I argue, however, that according a grounding role to artistic practice in the ontology of art does not conflict with meta-ontological realism. Practice must ground our ontological inquiries because (...) our task is to make sense of the practices into which artworks enter. Terms like ‘musical work,’ as employed by the ontologist, play an essentially explanatory role in this endeavor, and it is only in terms of this role that we can specify the object of our ontological inquiries. But neither our practices nor our folk beliefs are sacrosanct. In taking ontology of art to be reflectively accountable to artistic practice, I also reject Amie Thomasson's claim that it involves conceptual analysis and therefore cannot rightly claim to be directly revisionary of folk understandings. Ontology of art involves not conceptual analysis but the codification of a practice in a way that clarifies that practice. (shrink)
I explore the possibility that there are interesting and illuminating paralleIs to be drawn between issues central to the philosophical literature on scientific thought experiments (TE’s) and issues central to the phlilosophical literature on standard fictional narratives. I examine three related questions: (a) To what extent are TE’s (like) standard fictional narratives? (b) Is the understanding of TE’s like the understanding of standard fictional narratives? (c) Most significantly, are there illuminating paralIeIs to be drawn between the ‘epistemological problem’ of TE’s (...) in science, and epistemological problems that attend some of the cognitive claims made for standard works of fiction? If so, are strategies used to defend the epistemic virtues of TE’s equally available to defend the cognitive claims of works of fiction? In addressing the third of these questions, I spell out the range of responses elicited by the epistemological problern of TE’s in science and suggest that at least one of this responses might bear upon the credibility of the cognitive claims of fiction. (shrink)
Julian Dodd has argued that the type–token theory in musical ontology has a ‘default’ status because it can explain the repeatability and audibility of musical works without the need for philosophical reinterpretation. I present two challenges to Dodd's claims about audibility. First, I argue (a) that a type–token theorist who, like Dodd, adheres to Wolterstorff's doctrine of analogical predication must grant that musical works themselves are hearable only in an ‘analogical’ sense; and (b) that alternative musical ontologies are able to (...) explain the latter just as well as the type–token theory. Second, I argue that Dodd cannot evade this objection by claiming that what matters in musical ontology is accounting for audibility ‘in a derivative sense’, since the latter also allows of explanation by a range of musical ontologies. (shrink)
1. Metaphysical Realists have traditionally relied upon the skeptic to give substance to the idea that truth is, in the words of Hilary Putnam, 'radically non-episternic,’ forever outstripping, in principle at least, the reach of justification. What better model of truth so conceived, after all, than the skeptic's contention that even our firmest convictions might be mistaken in that we might be the victims of demonic deception or the machinations of an evil scientist? But the availability of this favorite model (...) of Realist truth, encapsulated in the claim that we might be ‘brains in a vat,’ has been called into question by Putnam in the opening chapter of Reason, Truth, and History. Putnam contends that, if we grant the Realist notion of truth, as referentially mediated correspondence to THE WORLD, then, given certain plausible constraints on reference, we can know that we are not brains in a vat. (shrink)
The Thin Red Line is the third feature-length film from acclaimed director Terrence Malick, set during the struggle between American and Japanese forces for Guadalcanal in the South Pacific during World War Two. It is a powerful, enigmatic and complex film that raises important philosophical questions, ranging from the existential and phenomenological to the artistic and technical. This is the first collection dedicated to exploring the philosophical aspects of Malick’s film. Opening with a helpful introduction that places the film in (...) context, five essays, four of which were specially commissioned for this collection, go on to examine the following: the exploration of Heideggerian themes – such as being-towards-death and the vulnerability of Dasein’s world – in The Thin Red Line how Malick’s film explores and cinematically expresses the embodied nature of our experience of, and agency in, the world Malick’s use of cinematic techniques, and how the style of his images shapes our affective, emotional, and cognitive responses to the film the role that images of nature play in Malick’s cinema, and his ‘Nietzschean’ conception of human nature. The Thin Red Line is essential reading for students interested in philosophy and film or phenomenology and existentialism. It also provides an accessible and informative insight into philosophy for those in related disciplines such as film studies, literature and religion. Contributors: Simon Critchley, Hubert Dreyfus and Camilo Prince, David Davies, Amy Coplan, Iain Macdonald. (shrink)
My aim in this article is to locate various forms of printmaking in a broader framework for thinking about so-called ‘multiple’ artworks, artworks that, as this is normally put, admit of multiple instances. I first sketch a general framework for the philosophical exploration of multiple artworks and the philosophical issues to which they give rise. I then address certain forms of printmaking that might be thought to generate singular rather than multiple artworks. Next, I look at how those print works (...) that are multiples stand in relation to other multiple works of the same general type in respect of certain challenges relating to the repeatability and variability of works. Finally, I examine a further question—the problem of limitation—more specific to prints qua multiples. (shrink)
Even if we reject the Wollheimian reading of Collingwood as an Idealist in the ontology of art, it remains puzzling how his non-Idealist ontology fits with his idea of art as expression. In trying to clarifying these matters, I argue that (i) the work of art, for Collingwood, is an activity, not the product of an activity; (ii) puzzling features of the Principles arise from attempts to reconcile this claim with the idea of art as expression while preserving the art/craft (...) distinction; and (iii) Collingwood's principal concern in the Principles is with the role of imagination in experience. CiteULike Connotea Del.icio.us What's this? (shrink)
This chapter contains section titled: Elaborating the Performance Theory Structure and Focus Heuristics and the Individuation of Artworks Work‐Constitution and Modality on the Performance Theory Performances, Actions, and Doings.
This chapter contains sections titled: A Baby with a Hand Grenade Implications of a “Causal” Medium Ethical Concerns about Photography Sontag's Critique of Arbus Some Difficulties with Sontag's Analysis The Ethics of Taking a Photograph The Ethics of Viewing a Photograph.
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)
In “The Pervasiveness of the Aesthetic in Ordinary Experience,” Sherri Irvin claims that “our everyday lives have an aesthetic character that is thoroughgoing and available at every moment, should we choose to attend to it.”1 While distancing her paper from terminological debates about the scope of the term “aesthetic,” she nonetheless claims to have established, at least to the satisfaction of a sympathetic “Deweyan” skeptic, that this term is properly applicable to the character of a range of everyday experiences. Furthermore, (...) she insists that it is for many reasons very important that we extend our conception of the domain of the aesthetic to include the kind of phenomena that she has in mind. For, to the.. (shrink)
Denis Dutton claimed that, to grasp why it matters to the artistic value of a painting like The Disciples at Emmaus that it was painted by van Meegeren in the first half of the twentieth century rather than by Vermeer in the seventeenth century, we need to locate what van Meegeren did in a wider class of ‘artistic crimes’ involving ‘misrepresented artistic performances’. I begin by clarifying how the notions of ‘artistic performance’ and ‘misrepresentation’ are to be understood in the (...) context of Dutton’s paper. I survey a range of examples of misrepresented artistic performances in Dutton’s sense, and ask when they involve ‘artistic crimes’. I then seek a principled way of justifying what seem to be our clear intuitions—apparent in our artistic practice—as to which ‘misrepresented artistic performances’ are artistic crimes and which are not. (shrink)
This chapter critically examines the idea that some cinematic artworks “do philosophy”. It is argued that any interesting “film as philosophy” thesis must satisfy two conditions: (FP1) In any advance in philosophical understanding attributable to a cinematic artwork, the philosophical content through which such an advance is accomplished must be articulated in a manner that is distinctively cinematic, on a proper understanding of the latter; (FP2) The advance in philosophical understanding attributable to a cinematic artwork must occur in the course (...) of our experiential engagement with that work, rather than in some distinct philosophical activity to which that engagement provides an extractable input. These conditions, it is argued, are not satisfied by the kinds of examples of ‘film as philosophy’ – cinematic ‘thought experiments’ – most often cited by philosophers. While (FP2) might be satisfied given a particular model of learning from thought experiments, (FP1) remains problematic. A second more elusive possibility is that philosophical understanding is advanced through affective qualities of the experiences cinematically elicited in receivers of a narrative film. After examining how cinematic affect is generated and the kind of philosophical work that such affect might do, Robert Sinnerbrink’s notion of “cinematic thinking” is critically assessed and tested against some relevant examples. (shrink)
The primary purpose of the performing arts is to prepare and present 'artistic performances', performances that either are themselves the appreciative focuses of works of art or are instances of other things that are works of art. In the latter case, we have performances of what may be termed 'performed works', as is generally taken to be so with performances of classical music and traditional theatrical performances. In the former case, we have what may be termed 'performance-works', as, for example, (...) in free improvisations. Where we have performances of performed works, a number of distinctive philosophical questions arise: What kind of thing is a performed work? How is it appreciated through its performances? Is 'authenticity' an artistically relevant quality of performances of performed works, and, if so, why? How much of what goes on in the performing arts is rightly viewed as the performance of performed works? Artistic performances, whether or not they are of performed works, raise philosophical questions of their own. Can a performance itself be rightly viewed as a work of art? How do improvisation and rehearsal enter into the performing arts, and how do they bear on the appreciation of artistic performances? What role does the audience play in such performances? Does the performer's use of her own body as an artistic medium, as for example in dance performance, generate special constraints on appreciation? How, finally, does what is usually classified as 'performance art' relate to activities in the performing arts more generally construed? I critically survey the ways in which these questions have been addressed by principal theorists in the field. (shrink)
1. Metaphysical Realists have traditionally relied upon the skeptic to give substance to the idea that truth is, in the words of Hilary Putnam, 'radically non-episternic,’ forever outstripping, in principle at least, the reach of justification. What better model of truth so conceived, after all, than the skeptic's contention that even our firmest convictions might be mistaken in that we might be the victims of demonic deception or the machinations of an evil scientist? But the availability of this favorite model (...) of Realist truth, encapsulated in the claim that we might be ‘brains in avat,’has been called into question by Putnam in the opening chapter ofReason, Truth, and History.Putnam contends that, if we grant the Realist notion of truth, as referentially mediated correspondence to THE WORLD, then, given certain plausible constraints on reference, we can know that we arenotbrains in a vat. (shrink)
Abstract According to John Dupré, the metaphysics underpinning modern science posits a deterministic, fully law?governed and potentially fully intelligible structure that pervades the entire universe. To reject such a metaphysical framework for science is to subscribe to ?the disorder of things?, and the latter, according to Dupré, entails the impossibility of a unified science. Dupré's argument rests crucially upon purported disunities evident in the explanatory practices of science. I critically examine the implied project of drawing metaphysical conclusions from epistemological premisses (...) concerning the nature of our explanatory practices. I then argue that Dupré fails to answer a particular argument for the ontological unity of science that rests upon assumptions about the causal structure of the world. This ?causal? argument for the unity of science might be countered by a more radical metaphysical revisionism. The latter, however, seems unable to account for features of our explanatory practices that testify to a measure of explanatory unity in science. I conclude by sketching a strategy that might enable the revisionist to overcome such difficulties. (shrink)
In Beauty and Revolution in Science, James McAllister argues that a sophisticated rationalist image of science can accommodate two prominent features of actual scientific practice, namely, appeals to “aesthetic” criteria in theory choice, and the occurrence of scientific “revolutions”. The aesthetic criteria to which scientists appeal are, he maintains, inductively grounded in the empirical record of competing theories, and scientific revolutions involve changes in aestheic criteria bu continuity in empirical criteria of theory choice. I raise difficulties for McAllister's account concerning: (...) (a) the nature and scope of “aesthetic” criteria in science; (b) the rationality of appeals to aestheic criteria in science; (c) the rationality of scientific revolutions. (shrink)
A recent panel at the annual meetings of the American Society for Aesthetics had the title “Can films philosophize?” The answer is, obviously, no, if we take this question literally. But books can’t philosophize either, in this sense. People philosophize, and they generally use natural language as the medium in which they carry out this activity. So our question is, can film serve as a philosophical medium in the ways, or in some of the ways, that language does? To answer (...) this question, we must first ask in what ways language functions as a philosophical medium. At a very general level, the answer to this question is fairly straightforward, if uninteresting. Language functions as a philosophical medium in that we use language to identify, articulate, clarify, and inter-relate what are viewed as philosophical issues, and to deepen our understanding of these issues and of the things that others say about them. What we take to be the significant philosophical issues, however, and what we take to be a contribution to deepening our understanding of these issues, may differ according to the philosophical tradition in which we work. If, for example, we think that the most fundamental philosophical issue is asking the question of Being, then our judgment as to when the linguistic medium is being used to ‘do philosophy’ is likely to differ substantially from the judgment we would make if we think that philosophers are best occupied analyzing everyday discourse or tending the separate gardens of the sciences. (shrink)
Horwich argues that we should reject metaphysical realism, but that we can preserve semantic realism by adhering to a redundancy theory of truth and a confirmationist account of linguistic understanding. But the latter will give us semantic realism only if it allows that the truth-values of sentences may transcend our recognitional capacities, and this is possible only insofar as we covertly reintroduce metaphysical realism. In spite of its intuitive appeal, we should not endorse semantic realism, but this need not bear (...) upon the tenability of scientific realism. (shrink)
Intuitively speaking, a multiple artwork is one that admits of multiple ‘instances’ which are capable of playing a particular role in the appreciation of the work. The ‘explananda’ in the title of this article are things that have been proposed as requiring explanation by any adequate ontology of multiple artworks so conceived. This assumes that the ontology of art is in the business of explaining certain things, an assumption I defend. At least nine purported explananda have been proposed in the (...) relevant literature. I begin by offering a preliminary sketch of these explananda, identifying how they are grounded in our ordinary artistic practice and discourse, and how they have structured recent debates in the ontology of art. I next argue that the notion of ‘instance’ must be understood in a particular way if instance multiplicity is to capture the standard distinction between singular and multiple art forms. I then assess the relative significance and implications of the nine explananda for an adjudication of the debates in the ontology of art. I identify problems for the historically dominant ‘type’ theory of multiples, and propose an alternative account that speaks to all nine explananda. I conclude by reflecting on where this leaves us and how we should proceed. (shrink)
It is now over 15 years since Hilary Putnam first urged that we take the “narrow path” of internal realism as a way of navigating between “the swamps of metaphysics and the quicksands of cultural relativism and historicism”. In the opening lines of the Preface to Realism with a Human Face, a collection of Putnam's recent papers edited by James Conant, Putnam reaffirms his allegiance to this narrow path, unmoved by Realist murmurings from the swamps and laconic Rortian suggestions that (...) only the quicksands are a proper metaphilosophical abode for those willing to confront our lack of epistemological and metaphysical foundations. If there are changes to be discerned in these writings, Putnam avers, they pertain only to the burden allotted to different considerations in the overall economy of his argument: “It might be said that the difference between the present volume and my work prior to The Many Faces of Realism is a shift in emphasis: a shift from emphasizing model-theoretic arguments against metaphysical realism to emphasizing conceptual relativity”. (shrink)
We have seen that a musical score is in a notation and defines a work; that a sketch or picture is not in a notation but is itself a work; and that a literary script is both in a notation and is itself a work. Thus in the individual arts a work is differently localized. In painting, the work is an individual object; and in etching, a class of objects. In music, the work is the class of performances compliant with (...) a character. In literature, the work is the character itself. And in calligraphy, we may add, the work is an individual inscription. (shrink)
Howard Robinson’s “revised causal argument” for the sense-datum theory of perception combines elements from two other arguments, the “original” causal argument and the argument from hallucination. Mark Johnston, however, has argued that, once the nature of the object of hallucinatory experience is properly addressed, the errors in hallucination-based arguments for conjunctivist views of perception like the sense-datum theory become apparent. I outline Robinson’s views and then consider the implications of Johnston’s challenge for the revised causal argument.