Adriana Clavel-Vázquez (Sheffield): The Case for Contextual Autonomism

Adriana Clavel-Vázquez (Sheffield): The Case for Contextual Autonomism

10th April 2019 - 4:15 pm,


Advocates of the ethical criticism of art claim that an artwork’s ethical defects have an impact on its aesthetic value. The ethical critic is interested in the ethical evaluation of a work’s intrinsic features, to see how its ethical value interacts with its aesthetic value. This paper examines the legitimacy of an intrinsic ethical assessment of works of fiction by questioning what should be regarded as a work’s intrinsic ethical defects. I propose a distinction between fictional and actual immorality in fiction that has important consequences for whether the counter-moral content of fictional narratives can be regarded as an intrinsic moral flaw. I argue that we cannot properly speak of a work’s intrinsic ethical demerits, and that thus we can only aspire to an extrinsic ethical assessment of a narrative that depends entirely on contextual considerations: some features of works of fiction can be regarded as ethically significant in certain contexts. Because the ethical assessment can only be extrinsic and context dependent, I conclude that we should defend Contextual Autonomism.

About the speaker

Adriana is an early career researcher and Honorary Fellow at the University of Sheffield. Her research interests include appreciators’ imaginative engagement with immorality in fiction, the role embodiment plays in imaginative engagement, and in the interaction of ethical and aesthetic value. She’s known for her version of moderate autonomism, called Contextual Autonomism, as well as her recent work on rough heroines. Her current projects include work on moral flaws in fiction, response amoralism, and the philosophy of Sor Juana Inés de la Cruz. Adriana has recently founded the Aesthetics and Ethics Research Group along with Panos Paris and Nils-Hennes Stear, set to hold its inaugural event ‘Beauty and Goodness’ in September.

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