Robert Stecker investigates the universal human need for aesthetic experience of the world around us. He examines three contexts where aesthetic value plays a central role: art, nature, and the everyday. He explores how the aesthetic interacts with moral, cognitive, and functional values, and considers the place of the aesthetic in a good life.
In this paper we defend a direct reference theory of names. We maintain that the meaning of a name is its bearer. In the case of vacuous names, there is no bearer and they have no meaning. We develop a unified theory of names such that one theory applies to names whether they occur within or outside fiction. Hence, we apply our theory to sentences containing names within fiction, sentences about fiction or sentences making comparisons across fictions. We then defend (...) our theory against objections and compare our view to the views of Currie, Walton, and others. (shrink)
What possesses aesthetic value? According to a broad view, it can be found almost anywhere. According to a narrower view, it is found primarily in art and is applied to other items by courtesy of sharing some of the properties that make artworks aesthetically valuable. In this paper I will defend the broad view in answering the question: how should we characterize aesthetic value and other aesthetic concepts? I will also criticize some alternative answers.
In many artworks, both aesthetic and ethical values are present, and both can contribute to the overall artistic value of a work. The question explored in this paper is: does the presence of one kind of value affect the degree of the other? For example, does a work that expresses a morally reprehensible attitude diminish the aesthetic value of a work? Let ‘interaction’ name the view that the presence of one kind of value affects the degree of the other. We (...) will argue in favour of the existence of interaction. However, we will argue further that such interaction is a contingent feature of artworks and that the most common argument that has been offered for interaction—the affective -response -argument—fails to identify the main reason why it holds, when it in fact does. (shrink)
_Interpretation and Construction_ examines the interpretation and products of intentional human behavior, focusing primarily on issues in art, law, and everyday speech. Focuses on artistic interpretation, but also includes extended discussion of interpretation of the law and everyday speech and communication. Written by one of the leading theorists of interpretation. Theoretical discussions are consistently centered around examples for ease of comprehension.
Can a moral defect be an artistic virtue? Can it make a positive contribution to artistic value? Further, if this can happen on occasion, does this imply that moral value has no systematic connection to artistic value since every conceivable relation between them is possible? The idea that moral defects can sometimes be artistic virtues has received a fair number of defenders recently and so has the anti-theoretical view that there is no systematic relation between artistic and moral value. But (...) I think immoralism—as the first of these views is called—is mistaken and I will try to show that no good reason has been offered to believe it. If immoralism is wrong, the anti-theoretical view at best devolves into moderate moralism—the idea that moral defects sometimes, but not always, are responsible for artistic defects. CiteULike Connotea Del.icio.us What's this? (shrink)
_Interpretation and Construction _examines the interpretation and products of intentional human behavior, focusing primarily on issues in art, law, and everyday speech. Focuses on artistic interpretation, but also includes extended discussion of interpretation of the law and everyday speech and communication. Written by one of the leading theorists of interpretation. Theoretical discussions are consistently centered around examples for ease of comprehension.
Aesthetics and the Philosophy of Art is an essential introduction to some of the central topics and approaches being debated in contemporary aesthetics and philosophy of art. By taking a stand on each of the issues addressed and arguing for certain resolutions and against others, the text does not simply present a controversy in its current state of play, but instead helps to advance it toward a solution.
Praised in its original edition for its up-to-date, rigorous presentation of current debates and for the clarity of its presentation, Robert Stecker's new edition of Aesthetics and the Philosophy of Art preserves the major themes and conclusions of the original, while expanding its content, providing new features, and enhancing accessibility. Described as a "remarkably unified introduction to many contemporary debates in aesthetics and the philosophy of art," Stecker specializes in sympathetically laying bear the play of argument that emerges as competing (...) views on a topic engage each other. (shrink)
In this paper, I ask: what is the role of function in appreciating artifacts? I will argue that several distinguishable functions are relevant to the aesthetic appreciation of artifacts, and sometimes more than one of these must be taken into account to adequately appreciate these objects. Second, I will claim that, while we can identify something we might call functional aesthetic value or functional beauty, the aesthetic properties that contribute to this value neither need to enhance the object’s performance of (...) its primary function nor manifest that function. There are broader criteria for what properties are relevant to functional beauty. Finally, I suggest that the aesthetic appreciation of artifacts may contribute to a larger appreciative project: the understanding and evaluation of a way of life, or social or cultural practices in which the artifact plays a role. (shrink)
In environmental aesthetics a variety of proposals have been advanced about relevant norms that constrain appropriate aesthetic appreciation of nature. Some of these proposals are about cognitive or epistemic norms in that the authors claim that nature ought to be cognized in certain ways or that we ought to form certain beliefs about nature rather than others, and that when we do so, it will significantly constrain our aesthetic appreciation of nature. Another proposal is that moral norms rule out certain (...) forms of aesthetic appreciation of natural objects and promote others. If these proposals are correct, then different kinds of value interact in the realm of environmental aesthetics. Evaluation of these proposals inevitably involves two parts. One first has to ask whether the purported norms exist. If they do, one has to assess their bearing on evaluative aesthetic judgments. Although there are weak epistemic norms of nature appreciation, they lack important implications sometimes associated with them. The situation is even less promising for moral norms: no one has successfully identified a moral norm that constrains aesthetic appreciation of nature. (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 Stephen Davies, 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.
Introduces a more sophisticated functional definition of art Deals with some of the problems Beardsley had Old & New Aestheticism Aesthetic Communication notes on the Artworld Artistic value End of art?
In this extensively revised and updated edition, 168 alphabetically arranged articles provide comprehensive treatment of the main topics and writers in this area of aesthetics. Written by prominent scholars covering a wide-range of key topics in aesthetics and the philosophy of art Features revised and expanded entries from the first edition, as well as new chapters on recent developments in aesthetics and a larger number of essays on non-Western thought about art Unique to this edition are six overview essays on (...) the history of aesthetics in the West from antiquity to modern times. (shrink)
It is not uncommon these days to claim that we should distinguish between artistic value and other types of value, including aesthetic value. A problem for this proposal is posed by the fact that artworks have valuable properties that are no part of its artistic value. Unless there is a way to distinguish artistically valuable properties from other valuable properties, some will be unconvinced that the distinction is viable.1 For this reason, I have proposed a test for artistic value to (...) underwrite support for the distinction.2 The main idea of the test is that we gain access to artistic values of artworks by means of understanding or appreciating those works, and this is not necessary to identify a work’s non-artistic values. Julian Dodd has argued the test is flawed and his criticism is based on a phenomenon I will call value entanglement.3 In this paper, I will identify the interesting phenomena of value entanglement, argue that it does not threaten the current version of the test I endorse, and explore whether there are other problems for that test. (shrink)
What is art? What is it to understand a work of art? What is the value of art? Robert Stecker seeks to answer these central questions of aesthetics by placing them within the context of an ongoing debate criticizing, but also explaining what can be learned from, alternative views. His unified philosophy of art, defined in terms of its evolving functions, is used to explain and to justify current interpretive practices and to motivate an investigation of artistic value. Stecker defines (...) art as an item that is an artwork at time t if and only if it is in one of the central art forms at t and is intended to fulfill a function art has at t, or it is an artifact that achieves excellence in fulfilling such a function. Further, he sees the standard of acceptability for interpretations of artworks to be relative to their aim. Finally, he tries to understand the value of artworks through an analysis of literature and the identification of the most important functions of literary works. In addition to offering original answers to major questions of aesthetics, _Artworks_ covers most of the major issues in contemporary analytic aesthetics and discusses many major, as well as many minor, figures who have written about these issues, including Stanley Fish, Joseph Margolis, Richard Rorty, and Richard Shusterman. (shrink)