The history of the welfare state is not only or even primarily a story of men and measures but also one of concepts and social ideals. Over the last hundred and twenty years or so, the body of policies, rules, and practices which we collectively term the welfare state has become the most prominent feature of politics and state activity in every developed country. This reflects not only institutional and procedural pressures on the political process during this period, but also (...) the gradual permeation of all parties and arguments by a particular conception of welfare which has determined and limited the range and terms of debate. Both theoretical debate and concrete measures reflect pervasive assumptions and generalized arguments about the nature and content of collective and individual welfare, their preconditions, and their consequences. (shrink)
StephenDavies presents a fascinating exploration of the idea that art, and our aesthetic sensibilities more generally, should be understood as an element in human evolution. He asks: Do animals have aesthetics? Do our aesthetic preferences have prehistoric roots? Is art universal? What is the biological role of aesthetic and artistic behaviour?
Representing StephenDavies's best shorter writings, these essays outline developments within the philosophy of music over the last two decades, and summarize the state of play at the beginning of a new century. Including two new and previously unpublished pieces, they address both perennial questions and contemporary controversies, such as that over the 'authentic performance' movement, and the impact of modern technology on the presentation and reception of musical works. Rather than attempting to reduce musical works to a (...) single type, Davies recognizes a great variety of kinds, and a complementary range of possibilities for their rendition. (shrink)
In a recent essay, Jerrold Levinson defends his version of hypothetical intentionalism, which is a theory of literary interpretation, from two criticisms. The first, argued by StephenDavies, is that it is equivalent to the value-maximizing view. The second, argued by Robert Stecker, is that there are straightforward counterexamples to HI. We will argue that Levinson does not successfully fend off either criticism, and further, that in the process of attempting to do so, creates another dilemma for his (...) view. (shrink)
Philosophical Perspectives on Art presents a series of essays devoted to two of the most fundamental topics in the philosophy of art: the distinctive character of artworks and what is involved in understanding them as art. In Part I, StephenDavies considers a wide range of questions about the nature and definition of art. Can art be defined, and if so, which definitions are the most plausible? Do we make and consume art because there are evolutionary advantages to (...) doing so? Has art completed the mission that guided its earlier historical development, and if so, what is to become of it now? Should architecture be classified as an art form? -/- Part II turns to the interpretation and appreciation of art. What is the target and purpose of the critic's interpretation? Is interpretation primarily directed at uncovering artists' intended meanings? Can apparently contradictory interpretations of a given piece both be true? Are interpretative evaluations entailed by descriptions of a work's aesthetic and artistic characteristics? In addition to providing fresh answers to these and other central questions in aesthetics, Davies considers the nature and content of metaphor, and the relation between the expressive qualities of a work of art and the emotions of its creator. (shrink)
While StephenDavies argues that a debate on cross-cultural aesthetics is possible if we adopt an attitude of mutual respect and forbearance, his fellow symposiasts shed light upon different aspects which merit a closer scrutiny in such a dialogue. Samer Akkach warns that an inclusivistic embrace of difference runs the risk of collapsing the very difference one sought to understand. Julie Nagam underscores that local knowledge carriers and/or the medium should be involved in such a cross-cultural exploration. Enrico (...) Fongaro searches for a way of experiencing cross-cultural art such that it can lead to a transformative experience Relatedly, Meilin Chinn uses the analogy of friendship to explore the edifying dimension of experiencing an art form. Lastly, John Powell studies whether Dickie’s Institutional Theory can be meaningfully used to identify works of art in Western and non-Western traditions. (shrink)
Philosophical Perspectives on Art is a collection of sixteen articles on the philosophy of art that StephenDavies published between 1984 and 2006. The book consists of two parts that focus, in turn, on the nature of art and on meaning and interpretation. Although there is unavoidably some overlap between the different chapters, the book is remarkable in its scope, engaging with all the central questions in the philosophy of art in a thorough, coherent and far-reaching manner.The category (...) of art that is under analysis in the first part, is, as Davies explains, one that crosses the boundaries between the natural and the humanly invented and, further, escapes the confines of Western fine art to encompass, for instance, folk or pre-18th century Western art, as well as the art production of non-Western cultures.An all-inclusive category of art, however, sets two challenges for a comprehensive theory of art: on the one hand, with such a wide and varied token …. (shrink)
This volume brings together essays by leading philosophers of art who consider what can be learned from the meaning of art about society, morality, and life in general. This subject inevitably leads to discussion of other issues. Is art distinct from life? Is a concern with art's messages consistent with an appropriately aesthetic appreciation of its works? Is there anything distinctive about the manner in which art communicates its messages, or about the messages it conveys? The topic of art's social (...) and moral importance has always been a central one in aesthetics. However, whereas Plato and Schiller, for instance, viewed art as intimately implicated in a person's moral and social education, modernist theories have argued for art's autonomy and separation from worldly matters. The essays presented here provide a contemporary perspective on this long-standing debate and reveal the recent revitalization of humanist concerns in describing art and its significance. Contributors are StephenDavies, Susan L. Feagin, T. J. Diffey, Jenefer Robinson, Gregory Currie, Peter Lamarque, Jerrold Levinson, David Novitz, Ismay Barwell, Göran Hermerén, and Richard Shusterman. (shrink)
In the last 20 years postmodernism has had a powerful effect on the discipline of history and is now forcing empiricist historians to articulate their methods, and to defend them as both possible and virtuous. In this concise introduction, StephenDavies explains what historians mean by empiricism, examines the origins, growth and persistence of empirical methods, and shows how students can apply these methods to their own work.
There remains a concern in philosophy of education circles to assert that teaching is a social practice. Its initiation occurs in a conversation between Alasdair MacIntyre and Joe Dunne which inspired a Special Issue of the Journal of Philosophy of Education. This has been recently utilised in a further Special Issue by Chris Higgins. In this article I consider two points of conflict between MacIntyre and Dunne and seek to resolve both with a more nuanced understanding of the implications (...) of applying the concept ‘social practice’ to teaching. I critique both Dunne's and Higgins' focus on schools and school teaching. It is their focus on school teaching, rather than a broader account of teaching, that leads them astray. The result is that Dunne and Higgins have not shown that teaching is a social practice. School teaching is not a complex activity, but a complex set of different activities co-located in one place and engaged in by the same agents. In a final section I offer an account of ‘school teaching’ as a multi-practice activity which is consistent with MacIntyre's approach, and argue that schoolteachers have both an institutional and an educative role. (shrink)
This collection of 16 original articles by prominent theorists from a variety of disciplines provides an excellent insight into current thinking about artifacts. The four sections address issues concerning the metaphysics of artifacts, the nature and cognitive development of artifact concepts, and the place of artifacts in evolutionary history. The most overtly philosophical contributions are in the first two sections. Metaphysical issues addressed include the ‘mind-dependence’ of artifacts and the bearing of this on their ‘real’ existence, and the distinction between (...) natural and artifact kinds, and its implications for issues in epistemology and semantics – for example, whether there is ‘maker's knowledge’ of artifacts, and whether ‘direct’ theories of reference apply to artifact-kind terms. The papers concerned with the nature of artifact concepts – the ways in which we represent artifacts to ourselves – address how judgements of artifact identity track judgements about manifest appearance, function, and maker's intentions, and the neuroscientific basis for artifact categorization. Papers …. (shrink)
The Genre Legong is a secular (balih-balihan) Balinese dance genre (Anon. 1971). Though originally associated with the palace, legong has long been performed in villages, especially at temple ceremonies, as well as at Balinese festivals of the arts. Since the 1920s, abridged versions of legong dances have featured in concerts organized for tourists and in overseas tours by Balinese orchestras. Indeed, the dance has become culturally emblematic, and its image is used to advertise Bali to the world. Traditionally, the dancers (...) are three young girls; the servant (condong), who dances a prelude, and two legong. All wear elaborate costumes of gilded cloth with ornate accessories and frangipani-crowned headdresses. The core repertoire consists of about fifteen dances (some of which are now lost), ranging in their longest versions from thirty to sixty minutes. Some of these are narrative, while others are abstract or general representations of nature, birds, insects, or plants. Those that involve narratives are, nevertheless, highly stylized, and the presentation of the drama is always secondary to the beauty of the dance. The genre is regarded as a treasury of the movements for Balinese women’s dance, and no dancer’s training is complete if she lacks a solid grounding in legong. The dance is accompanied by a gamelan of twenty-five or more players. Though the legong dance remains popular in areas of traditional strength, and despite efforts to revive it, it is generally in decline (Davies 2006). (shrink)
Ridley Scott’s Blade Runner is widely regarded as a "masterpiece of modern cinema" and is regularly ranked as one of the great films of all time. Set in a dystopian future where the line between human beings and ‘replicants’ is blurred, the film raises a host of philosophical questions about what it is to be human, the possibility of moral agency and freedom in ‘created’ life forms, and the capacity of cinema to make a genuine contribution to our engagement with (...) these kinds of questions. This volume of specially commissioned chapters systematically explores and addresses these issues from a philosophical point of view. Beginning with a helpful introduction, the seven chapters examine the following questions: How is the theme of death explored in Blade Runner and with what implications for our understanding of the human condition? What can we learn about the relationship between emotion and reason from the depiction of the ‘replicants’ in Blade Runner ? How are memory, empathy, and moral agency related in Blade Runner ? How does the style and ‘mood’ of Blade Runner bear upon its thematic and philosophical significance? Is Blade Runner a meditation on the nature of film itself? Including a brief biography of the director and a detailed list of references to other writings on the film, Blade Runner is essential reading for students – indeed anyone - interested in philosophy and film studies. Contributors: Colin Allen, Peter Atterton, Amy Coplan, David Davies, Berys Gaut, Stephen Mulhall, C. D. C. Reeve. (shrink)
The search for a worldwide environmental ethic is linked to the increase in environmental concern since the 1960s, and the recognition that environmental problems can have a global impact. Numerous people and organizations have put forward their understanding of the necessary components of such an ethic and these have converged in a series of international statements. A small number of common elements have emerged. These can be expressed in 10 ‘premises’, which may form the basis for developing into an acceptable (...) worldwide ethic, along the lines called for in the revised World Conservation Strategy, Caring for the Earth, 1991. (shrink)
What are musical works? Are they discovered or created? Can recordings substitute faithfully for live performances? This book considers these and other intriguing questions. It first outlines the nature of musical works, their relation to performances, and their notational specification; it then considers authenticity in performance, musical traditions, and recordings. Comprehensive and original, the volume discusses many kinds of music, applying its conclusions to issues as diverse as the authentic performance movement, the cultural integrity of ethnic music, and the implications (...) of the dominance of recorded over live music. (shrink)
To analyze the relations between art and science, philosophers and historians have developed different lines of inquiry. A first type of inquiry considers how artistic and scientific practices have interacted over human history. Another project aims to determine the contributions that scientific research can make to our understanding of art, including the contributions that cognitive science can make to philosophical questions about the nature of art. We rely on contributions made to these projects in order to demonstrate that art and (...) science are codependent phenomena. Specifically, we explore the codependence of art and science in the context of a historical analysis of their interactions and in the context of contemporary debates on the cognitive science of art. (shrink)
Written with clarity, wit, and rigor, _The Philosophy of Art_ provides an incisive account of the core topics in the field. The first volume in the new _Foundations of the Philosophy of the Arts_ series, designed to provide crisp introductions to the fundamental general questions about art, as well as to questions about the several arts. Presents a clear and insightful introduction to central topics and on-going debates in the philosophy of art. Eight sections cover a wide spectrum of topics (...) such as the interpretation of art, the relation between art and moral values, and the expression and arousal of emotion through art. Pedagogical features include full-color illustrations, vibrant examples, thought-provoking discussion questions and helpful suggested readings. (shrink)
In its narrative, dramatic, and representational genres, art regularly depicts contexts for human emotions and their expressions. It is not surprising, then, that these artforms are often about emotional experiences and displays, and that they are also concerned with the expression of emotion. What is more interesting is that abstract art genres may also include examples that are highly expressive of human emotion. Pure music – that is, stand-alone music played on musical instruments excluding the human voice, and without words, (...) literary titles, or associated texts connected to it by its composer – is often characterized as the expressive art par excellence. Yet how could that be possible, given that such music lacks semantic or representational content? Pure music presents the hardest and most vivid philosophical challenge to any account of expressiveness in the arts, which is why it is crucial to consider the musical case for the light it sheds on the underlying principles and issues. In this chapter I consider two accounts of expressiveness in pure music. Both regard expressiveness as an objective property of such music. I argue for the position I call appearance emotionalism and against the alternative, which I label hypothetical emo- tionalism. But before I get to that, there is a different mode of musical expression to be acknowledged. Even instrumental music comes charged with associations. Some of these are private to the listener, but many are widely shared. The latter may be included in a piece by accident but are, more often, deliberately placed for their effects. For instance, when a song is quoted in an instrumental work, its title or words may be brought to mind. Certain melodies (e.g., “Ode to Joy”), styles (e.g., tarantella), idioms (e.g., fanfares), forms (e.g., minuet), modalities (e.g., church modes), and instruments (e.g., fifes and snare drums) recall particular social events, geocultural regions, historical periods, ideas, and sensibilities, and in this way can hook up with affective life-experiences. Though it is music’s associative ties that are likely to be referred to when most people are asked about music’s significance, philosophers say little about them.. (shrink)
I offer an analysis of the role played by consideration of an item's functions when it is judged aesthetically. The account applies also to artworks, of which some serve extrinsic functions (such as the glorification of God and the communication of religious lore) and others have the function of being contemplated for their own sake alone. Along the way, I deny that aesthetic judgements fit the model of judgements either of free beauty or of dependent beauty, given how these two (...) came to be described in the early twentieth century. (shrink)
Arthur C. Danto taught that an artwork’s identity and content depend on "an atmosphere of theory the eye cannot de[s]cry" (1964:580). By "theory", he did not mean the ideas developed by philosophers of art. His point was that an artwork can be properly recognized and appreciated only when seen in relation to the heritage of works, writings, practices, genres, and conventions that form the ground on which it stands out as subject. In brief, the work must be seen against the (...) backdrop of what he dubbed (1964) the art world. (shrink)
I discuss three theories regarding the interpretation of fictional literature: actual intentionalism (author's intentions constrain how their works are to be interpreted), hypothetical intentionalism (interpretations are justified as those most likely intended by a postulated author), and the value-maximizing theory (interpretations presenting the work in the most favourable light are to be preferred). I claim that actual intentionalism cannot account for the appropriateness or legitimacy of some interpretations, or alternatively that it must be weakened to the point that the considerations (...) raised by hypothetical intentionalists and value maximizers come into play. And I argue that hypothetical intentionalism either reduces to the value-maximizing theory, which provides a more accurate and clearer expression of the position than does hypothetical intentionalism, or it mistakenly attributes to hypothesized intentions the kind of force that attaches only to actual intentions. (shrink)
In this paper, I review arguments that have been offered in favor of the view that humans' art and/or aesthetic behaviors are (in part) a product of our biologically evolved human nature, either as adaptations in their own right or as incidental byproducts of adaptations with non-art and non-aesthetic functions. I present an overview of the main positions and options, critically evaluate their strengths and weaknesses, and outline their presuppositions.
Berys Gaut has recently defended a cluster account of art. He proposes it as superior to other anti-essentialist positions. I argue that his defence of this claim is unconvincing. Not only is the cluster theory consistent with the current crop of disjunctive definitions, it is at its most plausible when seen in such terms.
Most art is made by people with a well-developed concept of art and who are familiar with its forms and genres as well as with the informal institutions of its presentation and reception. This is reflected in philosophers’ proposed definitions. The earliest artworks were made by people who lacked the concept and in a context that does not resemble the art traditions of established societies, however. An adequate definition must accommodate their efforts. The result is a complex, hybrid definition: something (...) is art (a) if it shows excellence of skill and achievement in realizing significant aesthetic goals, and either doing so is its primary, identifying function or doing so makes a vital contribution to the realization of its primary, identifying function, or (b) if it falls under an art genre or art form established and publicly recognized within an art tradition, or (c) if it is intended by its maker/presenter to be art and its maker/presenter does what is necessary and appropriate to realizing that intention. Meanwhile, artworlds—historically developed traditions of works, genres, theories, criticism, conventions for presentation, and so on—play a crucial but implicit role in (b) and (c). They are to be characterized in terms of their origins. (shrink)