Immoral Artistry?

Journal of Ethics and Social Philosophy 27 (1) (2024)
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Abstract

This paper uses detailed art criticism to ground a distinctive take on debates about the interaction of moral and aesthetic value. Immoralists claim that moral flaws can make artworks aesthetically better than they would otherwise be. I argue that whether or not immoralism is true, immoralists have not provided compelling characterizations of strategies that might constitute this kind of “immoral artistry.” The main exception is found in the work of A. W. Eaton. I critique Eaton’s perspective by way of sustained interpretive-philosophical discussion of The Wire and especially The Sopranos. The discussion has implications for value interaction debates, conceptualizations of the “rough hero” genre, theories of appropriate response to fictions, and more applied debates about the moral criticism of film and television.

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Sam Shpall
University of Sydney

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