Autonomy and Aesthetic Valuing

Philosophy and Phenomenological Research (I) (forthcoming)
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Accounts of aesthetic valuing emphasize two constraints on the formation of aesthetic belief. We must form our own aesthetic beliefs by engaging with aesthetic value first-hand (the acquaintance principle) and by using our own capacities (the autonomy principle). But why? C. Thi Nguyen’s proposal is that aesthetic valuing has an inverted structure. We often care about inquiry and engagement for the sake of having true beliefs, but in aesthetic engagement this is flipped: we care about arriving at good aesthetic beliefs for the sake of the values that arise in the process of doing so. The engagement is the point, so we must use our own capacities in first-hand encounters. Here I challenge Nguyen’s account. I argue that it misconstrues the value of aesthetic belief; it conflicts with restrictions on aesthetic testimony; and it has trouble harnessing engagement-value for a theory of aesthetic value. A better approach emphasizes the social character of aesthetic valuing. On this view, aesthetic valuing is a social practice structured around the collaborative exercise and improvement of certain special capacities. The autonomy and acquaintance principles tell us to engage these capacities in forming our aesthetic beliefs. Understood aright, and contrary to consensus, these rules are identical.

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Nick Riggle
University of San Diego

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References found in this work

Critique of the power of judgment.Immanuel Kant - 2000 - New York: Cambridge University Press. Edited by Paul Guyer.
Games and the art of agency.C. Thi Nguyen - 2019 - Philosophical Review 128 (4):423-462.
Categories of Art.Kendall L. Walton - 1970 - Philosophical Review 79 (3):334-367.
Being for Beauty: Aesthetic Agency and Value.Dominic Lopes - 2018 - Oxford, United Kingdom: Oxford University Press.
Autonomy and Aesthetic Engagement.C. Thi Nguyen - 2019 - Mind 129 (516):1127-1156.

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