The uses of aesthetic testimony

British Journal of Aesthetics 57 (1):19-36 (2017)
  Copy   BIBTEX

Abstract

The current debate over aesthetic testimony typically focuses on cases of doxastic repetition — where, when an agent, on receiving aesthetic testimony that p, acquires the belief that p without qualification. I suggest that we broaden the set of cases under consideration. I consider a number of cases of action from testimony, including reconsidering a disliked album based on testimony, and choosing an artistic educational institution from testimony. But this cannot simply be explained by supposing that testimony is usable for action, but unusable for doxastic repetition. I consider a new asymmetry in the usability aesthetic testimony. Consider the following cases: we seem unwilling to accept somebody hanging a painting in their bedroom based merely on testimony, but entirely willing to accept hanging a painting in a museum based merely on testimony. The switch in intuitive acceptability seems to track, in some complicated way, the line between public life and private life. These new cases weigh against a number of standing theories of aesthetic testimony. I suggest that we look further afield, and that something like a sensibility theory, in the style of John McDowell and David Wiggins, will prove to be the best fit for our intuitions for the usability of aesthetic testimony. I propose the following explanation for the new asymmetry: we are willing to accept testimony about whether a work merits being found beautiful; but we are unwilling to accept testimony about whether something actually is beautiful.

Similar books and articles

Aesthetic testimony: What can we learn from others about beauty and art?Aaron Meskin - 2004 - Philosophy and Phenomenological Research 69 (1):65–91.
Aesthetic Testimony.Jon Robson - 2012 - Philosophy Compass 7 (1):1-10.
How to Be a Pessimist about Aesthetic Testimony.Robert Hopkins - 2011 - Journal of Philosophy 108 (3):138-157.
A new look at Kant's view of aesthetic testimony.Keren Gorodeisky - 2010 - British Journal of Aesthetics 50 (1):53-70.
On the Rational Power of Aesthetic Testimony.Errol Lord - 2016 - British Journal of Aesthetics 56 (1):1-13.
Aesthetic Testimony and the Norms of Belief Formation.Jon Robson - 2013 - European Journal of Philosophy 23 (3):750-763.
A Critical Introduction to Testimony.Axel Gelfert - 2014 - New York: Bloomsbury Academic.
Is Hume really a reductivist?Michael Welbourne - 2002 - Studies in History and Philosophy of Science Part A 33 (2):407-423.
Circular testimony.Stephen Wright - 2016 - Philosophical Studies 173 (8):2029-2048.
How lucky can you get?Sanford Goldberg - 2007 - Synthese 158 (3):315-327.
The nature of testimony.Jennifer Lackey - 2006 - Pacific Philosophical Quarterly 87 (2):177–197.

Analytics

Added to PP
2017-02-24

Downloads
886 (#15,279)

6 months
186 (#13,382)

Historical graph of downloads
How can I increase my downloads?

Author's Profile

C. Thi Nguyen
University of Utah

Citations of this work

Autonomy and Aesthetic Engagement.C. Thi Nguyen - 2019 - Mind 129 (516):1127-1156.
Art as a Shelter from Science.C. Thi Nguyen - 2023 - Aristotelian Society Supplementary Volume 97 (1):172-201.
Trust and sincerity in art.C. Thi Nguyen - 2021 - Ergo: An Open Access Journal of Philosophy 8:21-53.
Aesthetic Acquaintance.James Shelley - 2023 - Pacific Philosophical Quarterly 104 (2):392-407.

View all 20 citations / Add more citations

References found in this work

Trust and antitrust.Annette Baier - 1986 - Ethics 96 (2):231-260.
Values and Secondary Qualities.John McDowell - 1985 - In Ted Honderich (ed.), Morality and objectivity: a tribute to J.L. Mackie. Boston: Routledge & Kegan Paul. pp. 110-129.
A Sensible Subjectivism.David Wiggins - 1987 - Oxford: Oxford University Press.
How to Be a Pessimist about Aesthetic Testimony.Robert Hopkins - 2011 - Journal of Philosophy 108 (3):138-157.

View all 18 references / Add more references