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British Journal of Aesthetics
Journal Prestige (SJR): 0.508
Citation Impact (citeScore): 1
Number of Followers: 23  
 
  Hybrid Journal Hybrid journal (It can contain Open Access articles)
ISSN (Print) 0007-0904 - ISSN (Online) 1468-2842
Published by Oxford University Press Homepage  [424 journals]
  • Introduction to the Special Issue on Art and Morality and Précis of the
           Four Books Included in the Symposium

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      Pages: 511 - 515
      Abstract: The relation between art and morality is one of the vexed issues of aesthetics; it has a history at least from Plato and has been written about, or commented on, by most if not all the luminaries in aesthetics—it is not coincidence that one of the most influential papers on these debates is also one of the most cited papers of this journal. Also, the (im)pertinence of moral concerns for the assessment of artworks is arguably one of the most discussed philosophical issues in the public opinion (albeit not always informed by philosophical insights). The prompt for this Special Issue was the publication, over a short space of time, of four books in the area: James Harold’s Dangerous Art: On Moral Criticisms of Artwork (2020), Erich Hatala Matthes’s Drawing the Line: What to Do with the Work of Immoral Artists from Museums to Movies (2022), Ted Nannicelli’s Artistic Creation and Ethical Criticism (2020), and Mary Beth Willard’s Why It’s OK to Enjoy the Art of Immoral Artists (2021). In this issue, each of these authors provides a précis of their own book, a criticism of one of the other books, and then a defence of their own work against this criticism. Although each book is, obviously, very different, there are some overlapping concerns that make for an especially productive interaction. In particular, one thread that runs through is the current vexed issue of what attitude an audience should take on a work of art in the light of facts about the moral character of its creator. With the wars over ‘cancel culture’ raging in the popular discourse, it is important to subject this issue to detailed philosophical examination.
      PubDate: Mon, 09 Jan 2023 00:00:00 GMT
      DOI: 10.1093/aesthj/ayac056
      Issue No: Vol. 62, No. 4 (2023)
       
  • Immoral Artists and Our Aesthetic Projects: Commentary on Mary Beth
           Willard’s Why It’s OK to Enjoy the Work of Immoral Artists

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      Pages: 517 - 525
      Abstract: One of the many important aspects of Mary Beth Willard’s Why It’s OK to Enjoy the Work of Immoral Artists is her focus on the idea of an aesthetic project. According to Willard, aesthetic projects can change the moral calculus involved in our decision about whether to continue engaging with the work of an artist who has committed a morally egregious act. If a particular artist’s work was inconsequential to you to begin with, then even if the moral reasons that support giving up that artist’s work are relatively weak, there is little weighing against them on the other side. Not so, Willard argues, when that artist’s work is part of an aesthetic project that plays a foundational or organizational role in our aesthetic lives. But Willard does not merely want to claim that an aesthetic project can provide a significant counterweight against the moral reasons for giving up an artist (the aesthetic weighing against the ethical). She also argues that aesthetic projects can give us new ethical reasons (Willard, 2021, pp. 50–51).
      PubDate: Mon, 09 Jan 2023 00:00:00 GMT
      DOI: 10.1093/aesthj/ayac009
      Issue No: Vol. 62, No. 4 (2023)
       
  • Productive Disagreements: Commentary on Ted Nannicelli’s Artistic
           Creation and Ethical Criticism

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      Pages: 527 - 537
      Abstract: If I had read Ted Nannicelli’s (2020) thoughtful and wide-ranging book before writing my own, I would not have written the same book that I did, and my book almost certainly would have been better for it. Ted Nannicelli’s 2020 book has many keen insights, and I learnt much from reading it.
      PubDate: Mon, 09 Jan 2023 00:00:00 GMT
      DOI: 10.1093/aesthj/ayac010
      Issue No: Vol. 62, No. 4 (2023)
       
  • Institutional Responsibility and Aesthetic Value: Commentary on Erich
           Hatala Matthes’s Drawing The Line: What to Do with the Work of Immoral
           Artists from Museums to the Movies

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      Pages: 539 - 548
      Abstract: Erich Hatala Matthes’s (2021)Drawing the Line is about what we ought to do when we discover that an artist whom we love has committed a great moral wrong. As it turns out, Matthes and I agree almost entirely on the moral obligations of the individual consumer. We both agree that it is necessary to ascertain whether the life of the artist affects the aesthetic quality of their work, and that we should attend to how continuing to engage with their work publicly expresses our ethical values. Both of us wind up with a morally permissive stance, according to which individuals can, in some contexts, continue to engage with the artwork of immoral artists.
      PubDate: Mon, 09 Jan 2023 00:00:00 GMT
      DOI: 10.1093/aesthj/ayac011
      Issue No: Vol. 62, No. 4 (2023)
       
  • How to Do (Im)moral Things with Artworks: Commentary on James
           Harold’s Dangerous Art

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      Pages: 549 - 558
      Abstract: James Harold’s Dangerous Art (2020) is a provocative and stimulating contribution to contemporary debates about the relationship between art and ethics—one that, I am sure, will redirect philosophical discussion in productive and important ways. In my view, the first half of Harold’s book will prove especially useful in advancing stalled debates by shifting our focus from the ethical features of artworks themselves to how those works affect us and the role they play in our communities (p. 96). Much of what Harold says strikes me as plausible and persuasive—particularly in the book’s first half, in which he focuses on the question of the ethically relevant effects of art. Therefore, in my role as critic, I will offer one suggestion for a way that Harold might refine his view on this topic—namely, by allowing that there are some cases in which what artists do in their artworks is both the proper object of ethical appraisal and closely connected to the effects their art has on us. I will then critically explore an aspect of the book that I found less convincing: Harold’s case for expressivism in Chapters 6 and 7.
      PubDate: Mon, 09 Jan 2023 00:00:00 GMT
      DOI: 10.1093/aesthj/ayac012
      Issue No: Vol. 62, No. 4 (2023)
       
  • How Museums and Arts Institutions Can Deal With the Problem of Immoral
           Artists: A Reply to Mary Beth Willard

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      Pages: 559 - 566
      Abstract: Mary Beth Willard’s thoughtful commentary on Drawing the Line (Matthes, 2022) focuses on questions about my discussion of how arts institutions ought to navigate the problem of immoral artists. We are both in general agreement that individual consumers have substantial moral latitude to engage with whatever art they want, although some further ethical complications arise as that engagement enters the public sphere. Willard likewise appears to agree that, in cases where contemporary artists take advantage of their celebrity in order to commit immoral actions, arts institutions can take a moral stand by discontinuing their work with these artists. Examples that I discuss in my book include decisions by Netflix and Ridley Scott to not work with Kevin Spacey on the heels of accusations about predatory behaviour by the actor, and the decision by the National Gallery in the US to suspend a special exhibition of the paintings of (the now late) Chuck Close in light of sexual harassment allegations. While such actions may go some way towards preventing further abuse, they also have an expressive function, signalling the institution’s attitude towards the allegations in question. However, as Willard notes, in contrast with these examples, in many cases, institutions are positioned similarly to individuals in at least one important respect: when the artist is deceased and their moral transgressions are long in the past, the moral questions that both individuals and institutions face are primarily expressive. But the context and power of institutions relative to individuals alter the considerations that influence how they can navigate these expressive possibilities. Willard raises important questions about whether and how institutions can ‘tread the desirable middle ground between uncritically endorsing an immoral artist and cancelling them’ (Willard, 2022, p. 539). In this context, Willard and I are both referring to ‘cancelling’ artists in the literal sense: institutions making decisions to cancel exhibitions, concerts, book deals, and so on.
      PubDate: Mon, 09 Jan 2023 00:00:00 GMT
      DOI: 10.1093/aesthj/ayac029
      Issue No: Vol. 62, No. 4 (2023)
       
  • In Defence of the Production-Oriented Approach to the Ethical Criticism of
           Art: A Reply to James Harold

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      Pages: 567 - 576
      Abstract: As James Harold notes in his generous and thoughtful commentary on Artistic Creation and Ethical Criticism (ACEC) (2020), there is much on which we agree, including some of the points he raises in the commentary. In what follows, I will note these points of agreement and address Harold’s objections in the order he raises them.
      PubDate: Mon, 09 Jan 2023 00:00:00 GMT
      DOI: 10.1093/aesthj/ayac031
      Issue No: Vol. 62, No. 4 (2023)
       
  • Aesthetic Reasons, Aesthetic Value, and the Myth of the Aesthetic
           Meritocracy: A Reply to Erich Hatala Matthes

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      Pages: 577 - 586
      Abstract: Matthes and I both hold that the central ethical harm of continuing to engage with the work of immoral artists lies in what doing so inadvertently expresses to others. (Matthes, 2021; Matthes, 2022; Willard, 2021; Willard, 2022). We also agree that there’s little wrong ethically with continuing to engage the work of immoral artists in private or within interpretive communities poised to place the ethical and the aesthetic in dialogue with each other. Matthes (2022, p. 523) notes that part of his motivation for writing the book was the countless conversations he had with friends, colleagues, and strangers about the problem of immoral artists, and my experience–—everywhere from the doctor’s office to the classroom to the bike shop—was similar. Interpretive communities reappraise immoral artists’ art together.
      PubDate: Mon, 09 Jan 2023 00:00:00 GMT
      DOI: 10.1093/aesthj/ayac032
      Issue No: Vol. 62, No. 4 (2023)
       
  • Art and Ethico-Political Value

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      Pages: 597 - 614
      Abstract: AbstractWork in feminist and critical race aesthetics brings out a complex interaction between aesthetic, ethical, and political value. The interest in ethico-political considerations is also found in recent literature around art and ethics, such as debates about the work of immoral artists, cultural appropriation and heritage, and art in public spaces. These discussions are characterized by a social structural approach to the ethico-political value of art that focuses on relations between artworks, other artefacts, and individuals in specific sociohistorical contexts and as they emerge from specific social organizations. In this paper I present the main features and assumptions behind these social structural approaches to the values of art. I examine accounts that take ethico-political value to depend on artworks’ contributions to public discourse and on their role in constituting social structures.
      PubDate: Mon, 09 Jan 2023 00:00:00 GMT
      DOI: 10.1093/aesthj/ayac024
      Issue No: Vol. 62, No. 4 (2023)
       
  • Immoralism is Obviously True: Towards Progress on the Ethical Question

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      Pages: 615 - 632
      Abstract: AbstractThe Ethical Question asks whether ethical values in artworks determine their aesthetic value and, if so, how. I argue that the question is ambiguous between a direct and an indirect reading. I show how the indirect reading is philosophically uninteresting because it has an obvious answer: a view called ‘immoralism’. I also show how most of the significant figures in the relevant literature address the indirect form of the question anyway—needlessly, if I am right. Finally, I consider whether some version of the indirect question is more philosophically interesting, connecting it to the so-called ‘qua problem’. I attempt to give clarity to the discussion by applying work on the virtues and vices of explanations.
      PubDate: Mon, 09 Jan 2023 00:00:00 GMT
      DOI: 10.1093/aesthj/ayac047
      Issue No: Vol. 62, No. 4 (2023)
       
  • Does the Critical Scrutiny of Drill Constitute an Epistemic Injustice'

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      Pages: 633 - 651
      Abstract: AbstractIn this paper, I look to draw novel connections between critiques of drill and epistemic injustice by addressing the question of whether the critical scrutiny of drill constitutes an epistemic injustice. I argue that these critiques constitute two types of epistemic injustice: testimonial injustice and contributory injustice. We see testimonial injustice in how courts and police do not give credibility to drill artists’ testimonies about the storylike nature of their songs, and these credibility deficits are based in racist stereotypes about black criminality and believability. We see contributory injustice in how courts and police, through wilful ignorance, see drill music as violent and criminal rather than expressive and fictional – as drill artists do – which thwarts drill artists’ ability to contribute to shared knowledge.
      PubDate: Mon, 09 Jan 2023 00:00:00 GMT
      DOI: 10.1093/aesthj/ayac041
      Issue No: Vol. 62, No. 4 (2023)
       
  • The Good, the Bad, and the Ugly

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      Pages: 653 - 670
      Abstract: AbstractIn recent years, a number of philosophers have suggested that the aesthetic value sometimes depends on moral value. In this paper, I motivate and defend the inverse position: the view that aesthetic value sometimes partially grounds moral value. I appeal to Grand Budapest Hotel and The Lovely Bones to show that maudlin treatments of morally serious subject matter are sometimes disrespectful, in part because they are maudlin; I appeal to Madame Bovary to show that lyrical treatments of morally serious subject matter are compassionate, in part because they are lyrical. I go on to clarify that aesthetic value and descriptive facts about the subject matter of an artwork jointly ground its moral value, and I conclude by considering and rejecting a number of potential objections to the aestheticist thesis.
      PubDate: Mon, 09 Jan 2023 00:00:00 GMT
      DOI: 10.1093/aesthj/ayab059
      Issue No: Vol. 62, No. 4 (2023)
       
  • Germs: A Memoir of Childhood

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      Pages: 699 - 702
      Abstract: Germs: A Memoir of Childhood RICHARD WOLLHEIM Shoemaker & Hoard. 2004. PP. 320. £12.20. (HBK)
      PubDate: Mon, 09 Jan 2023 00:00:00 GMT
      DOI: 10.1093/aesthj/ayac001
      Issue No: Vol. 62, No. 4 (2023)
       
  • Art, Borders and Belonging

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      Pages: 702 - 705
      Abstract: Art, Borders and Belonging MARIA PHOTIOU AND MARHSA MESKIMMON (EDS) Bloomsbury, 2021. PP. 226. £81.00 (HBK).
      PubDate: Mon, 09 Jan 2023 00:00:00 GMT
      DOI: 10.1093/aesthj/ayab068
      Issue No: Vol. 62, No. 4 (2023)
       
  • Alternative Realities

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      Pages: 706 - 708
      Abstract: Alternative Realities CARL PLANTINGA Rutgers University Press. 2021. pp. 168. £16. PBK.
      PubDate: Mon, 09 Jan 2023 00:00:00 GMT
      DOI: 10.1093/aesthj/ayab045
      Issue No: Vol. 62, No. 4 (2023)
       
  • Reading Ideas in Victorian Literature: Literary Content as Artistic
           Experience

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      Pages: 708 - 711
      Abstract: Reading Ideas in Victorian Literature: Literary Content as Artistic Experience PATRICK FESSENBECKER Edinburgh University Press. 2020. pp. 256. £85.00 (HBK).
      PubDate: Mon, 09 Jan 2023 00:00:00 GMT
      DOI: 10.1093/aesthj/ayab046
      Issue No: Vol. 62, No. 4 (2023)
       
  • Satire, Comedy, and Mental Health: Coping with the Limits of Critique

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      Pages: 711 - 715
      Abstract: Satire, Comedy, and Mental Health: Coping with the Limits of Critique DIETER DECLERCQ Emerald Publishing. 2021 PP. 160. £34.00. (PBK)
      PubDate: Mon, 09 Jan 2023 00:00:00 GMT
      DOI: 10.1093/aesthj/ayac016
      Issue No: Vol. 62, No. 4 (2023)
       
  • On Perspectivism and Expressivism: A Reply to Ted Nannicelli

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      Pages: 587 - 596
      Abstract: I am grateful for Ted Nannicelli’s careful attention to my book. In his comment, Nannicelli makes two quite serious sets of objections to my views. The first set concerns my arguments against perspectivism, the view that the attitudes or perspectives manifested in artworks are morally evaluable. The second set concerns my arguments for meta-normative expressivism, the view that normative judgements are expressions of the attitudes of persons, not beliefs in mind-independent facts. In what follows, I offer responses to each of these sets of objections, which I hope will go some way towards answering them. If my responses fail to fully answer the objections, perhaps they can at least shed further light on the reasons behind our disagreements. For the most part, I stand behind what I wrote, but Nannicelli’s criticisms have helped me to see the ways in which I might have said more to support certain points and in which I might have been clearer. I hope this short response can make clear what I was trying to do in the book and why I was trying to do it.
      PubDate: Wed, 07 Sep 2022 00:00:00 GMT
      DOI: 10.1093/aesthj/ayac030
      Issue No: Vol. 62, No. 4 (2022)
       
  • The Paradox of Rape in Horror Movies

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      Pages: 671 - 686
      Abstract: In this paper, I identify and provide an explanation for a heretofore unrecognized puzzle in feminist aesthetics and the philosophy of horror. Many horror movie fans have an aversion to rape scenes. This is puzzling because genre fans are not equally bothered by the depiction of other types of violence and cruelty. I argue that we can make sense of this selective aversion by appeal to the notion of ‘distance’, which philosophers of horror use to explain why people are attracted to horror movies in the first place. When we consume horror, we ‘distance’ ourselves from the scary things depicted, which allows other mechanisms to kick in that lead to overall enjoyment. I argue that ‘distance’ often collapses when viewers are confronted with depictions of rape because rape is common in real life and a gendered form of violence that is implicated in social injustice.
      PubDate: Fri, 29 Jul 2022 00:00:00 GMT
      DOI: 10.1093/aesthj/ayac035
      Issue No: Vol. 62, No. 4 (2022)
       
  • Structures of Morality and Allegiance in the Character Arc Story

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      Pages: 687 - 698
      Abstract: AbstractThe view that allegiance to characters is a matter of general moral assessment, as developed by Carroll (1984) and Smith (1995), has the resources to respond to counter-examples proposed in the literature, including appeals to anti-heroes, rough heroes and other ‘reprehensible characters’ that garner our allegiance. It can even admit non-moral factors as subterranean influences on moral assessment. Nevertheless, the view requires that the characters we most favour are those with the highest moral standing, and this does not seem to be true of the character arc story (Kelly, 2020). Rather, the mixture of good and bad impulses in the protagonist is set off by the unalloyed moral example of the moral centre, a supporting character whose fate may barely interest us. We conclude that narrative theory is better served by allowing the moral hierarchy of a story to differ from the rank order of its allegiances, and hence that audience affiliation is not simply a matter of moral assessment.
      PubDate: Sat, 05 Mar 2022 00:00:00 GMT
      DOI: 10.1093/aesthj/ayab020
      Issue No: Vol. 62, No. 4 (2022)
       
 
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