The default theory of aesthetic value combines hedonism about aesthetic value with strict perceptual formalism about aesthetic value, holding the aesthetic value of an object to be the value it has in virtue of the pleasure it gives strictly in virtue of its perceptual properties. A standard theory of aesthetic value is any theory of aesthetic value that takes the default theory as its theoretical point of departure. This paper argues that standard theories fail because they theorize from the default (...) theory. (shrink)
Introduced into the philosophical lexicon during the Eighteenth Century, the term ‘aesthetic’ has come to be used to designate, among other things, a kind of object, a kind of judgment, a kind of attitude, a kind of experience, and a kind of value. For the most part, aesthetic theories have divided over questions particular to one or another of these designations: whether artworks are necessarily aesthetic objects; how to square the allegedly perceptual basis of aesthetic judgments with the fact that (...) we give reasons in support of them; how best to capture the elusive contrast between an aesthetic attitude and a practical one; whether to define aesthetic experience according to its phenomenological or representational content; how best to understand the relation between aesthetic value and aesthetic experience. But questions of more general nature have lately arisen, and these have tended to have a skeptical cast: whether any use of ‘aesthetic’ may be explicated without appeal to some other; whether agreement respecting any use is sufficient to ground meaningful theoretical agreement or disagreement; whether the term ultimately answers to any legitimate philosophical purpose that justifies its inclusion in the lexicon. The skepticism expressed by such general questions did not begin to take hold until the later part of the 20th century, and this fact prompts the question whether (a) the concept of the aesthetic is inherently problematic and it is only recently that we have managed to see that it is, or (b) the concept is fine and it is only recently that we have become muddled enough to imagine otherwise. Adjudicating between these possibilities requires a vantage from which to take in both early and late theorizing on aesthetic matters. (shrink)
Arthur Danto argued from the premiss that artworks are essentially cognitive to the conclusion that they are incidentally aesthetic. I wonder why Danto, and the very many of us he persuaded, came to believe that the cognitive and the aesthetic oppose one another. I argue, contrary to Danto’s historical claims, that the cognitive and the aesthetic did not come into opposition until the late nineteenth or early twentieth century, and that they were brought into opposition for reasons of art-critical expediency (...) rather than philosophical necessity. I conclude that a robustly cognitive notion of the aesthetic remains an option for us. (shrink)
If, as Richard Wollheim says, the Acquaintance Principle is ‘a well-entrenched principle in aesthetics,’ it would be surprising if there were not something true at which those who have asserted it have been aiming. I argue that the Acquaintance Principle cannot be true on any traditional epistemic interpretation, nor on any usability interpretation of the sort Robert Hopkins has recently suggested. I then argue for an interpretation of the principle that treats acquaintance as the end to which judgments of aesthetic (...) value are the means as opposed to the other way around. (shrink)
Malcolm Budd speaks for many when he locates the "principal weakness" of Hume's account of the standard of taste in Hume's "blithe optimism about the uniformity of response of his true judges of artistic value". I argue that Hume's optimism is not blithe. I argue, in particular, that it follows from Hume's definition of a true judge that true judges will never disagree, and that it follows from his appeal to the test of time that true judges will agree often (...) enough to support the kind of standard Hume has in mind. (shrink)
Consider the following three propositions: (R) Artworks necessarily have aesthetic properties that are relevant to their appreciation as artworks. (S) Aesthetic properties necessarily depend, at least in part, on properties perceived by means of the five senses. (X) There exist artworks that need not be perceived by means of the five senses to be appreciated as artworks. The independent plausibility and apparent joint inconsistency of these three propositions give rise to what I refer to as ‘the problem of non-perceptual art’. (...) Assuming that the propositions are independently plausible and jointly inconsistent, there will be three ways of solving the problem: you may affirm (R) and (S) while denying (X); you may affirm (S) and (X) while denying (R); or you may affirm (R) and (X) while denying (S). The first of these, once the orthodox solution, has been displaced in recent years by the second. The third has never really been defended. I defend it here. If successful, my defence will have shown that there is reason to deny the existence of non-aesthetic art and no reason to believe that art is not essentially aesthetic. (shrink)
Value empiricists in aesthetics claim that we can explain the value of artworks by appeal to the value of the experiences they afford. I raise the question of the value of those experiences. I argue that while there are many values that such experiences might have, none is adequate to explaining the value of the works that afford the experiences. I then turn to defending the alternative to value empiricism, which I dub the object theory . I argue that if (...) there is some problem attending the object theory, commensurate with the problems attending empiricism, no one seems to have any idea what it is. I close by urging that the object theory be granted a fresh hearing. (shrink)
The dominant view about the nature of aesthetic value holds it to be response-dependent. We believe that the dominance of this view owes largely to some combination of the following prevalent beliefs: 1 The belief that challenges brought against response-dependent accounts in other areas of philosophy are less challenging when applied to response-dependent accounts of aesthetic value. 2 The belief that aesthetic value is instrumental and that response-dependence about aesthetic value alone accommodates this purported fact. 3 The belief that response-dependence (...) about aesthetic value alone accommodates the widely acknowledged anthropocentricity of aesthetic value. 4 The belief that response-dependence about aesthetic value alone accommodates aesthetic normativity. We argue that each of these beliefs is false, and that the dominance of response-dependent accounts of aesthetic value is therefore largely without foundation. (shrink)
18th-century British aesthetics addressed itself to a variety of questions: What is taste? What is beauty? Is there is a standard of taste and of beauty? What is the relation between the beauty of nature and that of artistic representation? What is the relation between one fine art and another? How ought the fine arts be ranked one against another? What is the nature of the sublime and ought it be ranked with the beautiful? What is the nature of genius (...) and what is its relation to taste? -/- Although none of these questions was peripheral to 18th-century British aesthetics, not all were equally central. The question on which the others tended to turn was the question concerning the nature of taste. But this question was not simply how best generally to define taste. Everyone seems to have been in at least rough agreement with Joseph Addison’s early definition of taste as “that faculty of soul, which discerns the beauties of an author with pleasure, and the imperfections with dislike” (Addison and Steele 1879, no. 409). But agreeing with Addison meant agreeing only to use “taste” to refer to that faculty and to acknowledge that such discerning has something of the phenomenology of sensation. The central question was how to think of taste so defined. Is taste a higher, cognitive faculty, akin perhaps to reason, with objects of a primarily intellectual nature? Or is it a lower, bodily faculty, more akin to the five bodily senses, and with objects of a primarily material nature? The major theories that arose in response to this question can be grouped into three main lineages: (a) internal-sense theories, of which the theories of Shaftesbury (1711), Hutcheson (1725), Hume (1739–40, 1751, and 1757) and Reid (1785) are representative; (b) imagination theories, of which theories of Addison (1712) and Burke (1757/59) are representative; and (c) association theories, of which the theories of Gerard (1757) and Alison (1790) are representative. (shrink)
I attempt to make sense of Hume's enigmatic characterization of the standard of taste as "a rule, by which the various sentiments of men may be reconciled; at least, a decision, afforded, confirming one sentiment, and condemning another." In particular, I take up the questions (a) how the standard could be both a rule and a decision, (b) why it is at least a decision if not a rule, and (c) why, if a rule, it may reconcile various sentiments rather (...) than merely confirm one and condemn another. (shrink)
Isenbergian particularism is the view that we make no appeal to general principles in criticism. Sibleyan generalism is the view that we do make appeal to general reasons in criticism. I argue that Isenbergian particularism and Sibleyan generalism are compatible one with another. I refer to their conjunction as "critical compatibilism" and argue that we ought to accept it over its rivals: strong particularism (the view that we make appeal neither to general principles nor to general reasons in criticism) and (...) strong generalism (the view that we make appeal both to general principles and to general reasons in criticism). (shrink)
l Carroll, that there is no reason to think that an aesthetic theory of art cannot do justice to art in its relation to the extra-artistic world. My argument depends on a reinterpretation of the aesthetic theory of Francis Hutcheson, according to which Hutcheson does not hold aesthetic perception to be non-epistemic, as Peter Kivy has maintained.
The problem of tragedy is the problem of explaining why tragedy gives us the pleasure that it does, given that it has the content that it has. I propose a series of constraints that any adequate solution to the problem must satisfy. Then I develop a solution to the problem that satisfies those constraints. But I do not claim that the solution I develop uniquely satisfies the constraints I propose. I aim merely to narrow the field of contending solutions, and (...) then to draw attention to an overlooked contended in that narrowed field. (shrink)
, George Dickie offers an account of artistic principles comprising both a description of their character and a description of the role they play in the evaluation of artworks. According to the former, artistic principles state that certain individual properties of artworks, in isolation from other properties, are always artistic merits; according to the latter, artistic principles serve as premises from which we infer that artworks have artistic merit. I argue not merely that Dickie 's account fails, but that any (...) account comprising either component of Dickie's account fails. Because not every account of artistic principles need comprise either of Dickie's components, the success of my argument will not rule out every possible account. But it will rule out many, and it will place tight constraints on the rest—tight enough, I believe, to raise worries about whether principles play any role in the evaluation of art. (shrink)
I defend my reading of Hume's "Of the Standard of Taste" against objections raised by Victor Durà‐Vilà. Two points are central to my defense. One is that Hume takes the joint verdict of true judges to indicate, rather than constitute, the standard of beauty. Two is that Hume requires a joint verdict because individual verdicts need not be expressive of human nature.
I defend my reading of Hume's "Of the Standard of Taste" from objections raised by Jeffrey Wieand. I argue that Wieand doesn't take seriously enough Hume's claim that beauty is not a quality of objects, and that taking this claim seriously requires regarding Hume's true judges as ideal.
George Dickie argues that Hume's principles of taste have value-laden properties as their subjects, including those properties we now refer to as ‘aesthetic’. I counter that Hume's principles have value-neutral properties as their subjects, and so exclude those properties we now refer to as ‘aesthetic’. Dickie also argues that Hume's essay on taste provides ‘the conceptual means for recognizing the problem of the interaction of aesthetic properties with other properties of artworks’. I counter that the very passages Dickie takes to (...) provide these conceptual means in fact suggest that Hume recognizes no such problem. (shrink)