James Shelley (Auburn University): To say that this flower is beautiful

James Shelley (Auburn University): To say that this flower is beautiful

21st June 2019 - 4:00 pm,


Abstract

What is it to say that something is beautiful? I attempt an answer by arguing against two rival answers. One is aesthetic hedonism, which answers that to say that something is beautiful is to say that it is valuable because pleasurable. I argue against aesthetic hedonism on the grounds that it is incompatible with the care we take to make accurate judgments of beauty. The other rival is aesthetic subjectivism, which answers that to say that something is beautiful is to do something other than ascribe to it an objective property. I argue against aesthetic subjectivism on the grounds that it is incompatible with our willingness to act on reliable testimony that something is beautiful. The answer I then propose holds that to say that something is beautiful is to ascribe to it an objective property, whose presence we have reason to judge accurately, since we otherwise risk failing to act as we aesthetically ought.


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