Topics in Aesthetics and Metaethics
Graduate course on value theory
University of Connecticut and Brown University
Topics and Readings
Aesthetics topics and readings
Arnold Isenberg, "On Formalism", Aesthetics and the Theory of Criticism, Chicago UP, 1973.
Wollheim. "Formalism and Pictorial Organization", Journal of Aesthetics and Art Criticism, 2001.
Kendall Walton, "Categories of Art", Philosophical Review, 1970.
Nick Zangwill, relevant chapters of The Metaphysics of Beauty, Cornell UP, 2001.
Berys Gaut, Making Sense of Films: Neoformalism and its Limits", Forum for Modern Language Studies, 1995.
Yuriko Saito, "The Aesthetics of the Everyday", Philosophy of Literature, 2001.
How should formalism be characterized? Is there anything to be said for it?
Jerrold Levinson on ‘hypothetical intentionalism’: "Artworks and the Future", in Music, Art, and Metaphysics; and "Interpretation and Intention in Literature", in The Pleasures of Aesthetics, Cornell UP, 1996).
Noel Carroll on 'moderate actual intentionalism’: "Interpretation and Intention", Metaphilosophy, 2000.
Gary Iseminger, "Actual Intentionalism Vs. Hypothetical Intentionalism", Journal of Aesthetics and Art Criticism, 1996.
Peter Lamarque, "Objects of Interpretation", Metaphilosophy, 2000.
W.J.T. Mitchell (ed.), Against Theory , Chicogo UP, 1985, see especially the two papers by Knapp and Michaels.
For a non-toxic guide to trendy postmodernism, try the two articles by Stuart Sim in O. Hanfling (ed.), Philosophical Aesthetics, Blackwell, 1992.
Is the meaning of a text fixed in part by the actual intentions of the author? Hypothetical intentions? What else?
3. The Aesthetics of Gardens.
Stephanie Ross, What Gardens Mean, Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 1998. Topics will be the ‘art’ status of gardens, and representation in gardens (chapters 1 and 6 of Ross's book).
Mara Miller, The Garden as an Art SUNY, 1993.
Yuriko Saito, Japanese Gardens: The Art of Improving Nature", Chanoyu Quarterly, 1996.
On issues about representation, one might compare Roger Scruton on representation in music or photography (in his The Aesthetic Understanding, Carcanet, 1983, or on musical representation in Philosophy of Music. Oxford UP, 1997.
Are gardens artworks? Can gardens represent?
4. Yuriko Saito’s essays on Japanese Aesthetics, and the Aesthetics of the Everyday.
"The Japanese Aesthetics of Packaging", Journal of Aesthetics and Art Criticism, 1999.
"The Japanese Appreciation of Nature", British Journal of Aesthetics, 1985.
There is a survey on Japanese aesthetics, in the Routledge Encyclopedia of Philosophy (ed. Edward Craig), by Meera Viswanathan.
What are some distinctive aspects of Japanese aesthetics? Should we take these ideas on board?
5. Kant on Reflective Judgement.
Malcolm Budd, "The Pure Judgement of Taste as an Aesthetic Reflective Judgement", British Journal of Aesthetics, 2001.
Henry Allison, Kant’s Theory of Taste, Cambridge UP, 2001.
Hannah Ginsborg, "Reflective Judgement and Taste", Nous, 1990; and "Lawfulness Without a Law", Philosophical Topics, 1997.
David Shier, "Why Kant Finds Nothing Ugly", British Journal of Aesthetics, 1998, and Christian Wenzel’s reply " Kant Finds Nothing Ugly?", in British Journal of Aesthetics, 1999.
What does Kant mean?! Does it help show how the judgment of taste is possible?
Metaethics topics and readings
1. Moral Explanation and Relativism
Gilbert Harman and Judith Thomson, Moral Objectivity and Relativism, Blackwell, 1996.
Philosophy and Phenomenological Research book symposium, 1998: essays by Peter Railton, Stephen Darwall, Sarah Stroud,
Simon Blackburn, Nicholas Sturgeon, and Harman and Thomson’s replies.
Moral explanations anyone? Moral relativism?
2. Simon Blackburn’s Quasi-realism.
Simon Blackburn, Ruling Passions, Oxford UP, 1998.
Philosophy and Phenomenological Research forthcoming book symposium:
essays by Jamie Dreier, Bob Hale, Adrian Moore, Michael Smith.
Perhaps some other reviews and critical notices of this book.
Quasi-realism? How does it fare in these exchanges?
3. Metaethics and Social Psychology.
John Doris, “Persons, Situations, and Virtue Ethics”, Nous, 1998.
Owen Flanagan, Varieties of Moral Personality, Harvard UP, 1991.
Gilbert Harman, "Moral Philosophy Meets Social Psychology", in his Explaining Value, Oxford UP, 2000.
What, if anything, can moral philosophy learn from social psychology?
4. Nietzsche on Morality.
Philippa Foot, "Nietzsche’s Immoralism", New York Review of Books 38/11, 1991.
Brian Leiter, "Morality in the Pejorative Sense", British Journal of the History of Philosophy, 2000.
Brian Leiter, "Nietzsche's Metaethics: Against the Privilege Readings", European Journal of Philosophy, 2000.
There is a survey on Nietzsche, in the Routledge Encyclopedia of Philosophy (ed. Edward Craig), by Maudemarie Clark.
For the dude himself, perhaps look at the selection in the ‘Morality’ chapter of A Nietzsche Reader, Penguin, 1977.
A collection of essays is Brian Leiter and Henry Richardson (ed.), Nietzsche, Oxford UP, 2001.
What was Nietzsche’s metaethical view? Is there anything to be said for it?
Moral Judgement, Motivation. and Addiction
Michael Stocker 1979: "Desiring the Bad", Journal of Philosophy. Sigrun Svavarsdottir, "Moral Cognitivism and Motivation", Philosophical Review, 1999. John Elster, Strong Feelings, MIT Press, 1999. Jay Wallace,
"Addiction as Defect of the Will: Some Philosophical Reflections," Law and
Philosophy 18 (1999).
Michael Stocker 1979: "Desiring the Bad", Journal of Philosophy.
Sigrun Svavarsdottir, "Moral Cognitivism and Motivation", Philosophical Review, 1999.
John Elster, Strong Feelings, MIT Press, 1999.
Jay Wallace, "Addiction as Defect of the Will: Some Philosophical Reflections," Law and Philosophy 18 (1999).
Is there a constitutive connection? A rational connection? No connection?
What is addiction? What kind of failing (if any?!) is it?