evolutionary aesthetics: Denis Dutton’s The art instinct: beauty, pleasure and human evolution: Bloomsbury Press, New York, 2009

Biology and Philosophy 26 (1):141-150 (2011)
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Denis Dutton’s The Art Instinct succeeds admirably in showing that it is possible to think about art from a biological point of view, and this is a significant achievement, given that resistance to the idea that cultural phenomena have biological underpinnings remains widespread in many academic disciplines. However, his account of the origins of our artistic impulses and the far-reaching conclusions he draws from that account are not persuasive. This article points out a number of problems: in particular, problems with Dutton’s appeal to sexual selection, with his discussion of the adaptation/by-product distinction and its significance, and with drawing normative conclusions from evolutionary hypotheses



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Justine Kingsbury
University of Waikato

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