Monday, 24th June 2019, Louise Hanson (University of Durham), “Robust Moral Realism and Robust Aesthetic Realism”

Venue: Sala Stefanini, Piazza Capitaniato, 3 – Padova, 16.30-18.30

Abstract: Many philosophers find robust moral realism (RMR) appealing. They find it plausible that there are moral truths, and that these are entirely independent of what anybody happens to think and how anybody happens to feel. But pretty much no one is inclined towards robust realism about beauty (RAR). And even philosophers who do not themselves accept robust moral realism, take it to be a respectable position worth engaging with. Not so with robust aesthetic realism!

The mainstream view is that robust realism is more tenable in the moral case than it is in the aesthetic case. There are two ways that this could be correct. The first way is Obstacle Asymmetry: RAR faces obstacles that RMR doesn’t face. The second is Motivation Asymmetry: RMR is better motivated than RAR – there are compelling arguments for RMR that lack counterparts in the aesthetic case.

This paper considers Motivation Asymmetry. I argue that there is no good reason to think it holds. I consider the three main kinds of argument that are commonly taken to motivate RMR, and I argue that each has an equally compelling aesthetic counterpart.

(i) Extensional Adequacy: Anything short of RMR is committed to implausible claims about is morally right and wrong

(ii) Morality: Anything short of RMR is committed to morally objectionable claims

(iii) Categorical Imperatives: Moral requirements are categorical, and RMR is the only position that can accommodate this.

If I am right, then in the absence of further arguments for RMR, we should take robust realism to be no less well-motivated in the aesthetic case than in the moral case.

This is a surprising result. Metaethicists often talk as though the considerations that motivate RMR are specifically moral ones, and as though RAR is not correspondingly well-motivated.

 

The Aesthetics Lecture Series is part of the Analytic Philosophy and Philosophy of Art Graduate Seminar organized by Prof. Massimiliano Carrara, Prof. Giuseppe Spolaore, Prof. Gabriele Tomasi, Dr. Elisa Caldarola, and Dr. Vittorio Morato for the academic year 2018-2019 at the FISPPA Department (Philosophy, Sociology, Pedagogy, and Applied Psychology) of the University of Padova, Italy.

The Aesthetics Lecture Series is funded by the University of Padova through the initiative “Supporting TAlent in ReSearch@University of Padova” – STARS Grants (Starting Grant 2018-2020, APAI – “A Philosophy of Art Installation”, P.I. Dr. Elisa Caldarola).

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Monday, 10 June 2019, Aesthetic Normativity Workshop, with Alfred Archer (TiLPS), John Dyck (CUNY), Serena Feloj (Pavia) and Lauren Ware (Kent)

Venue: Sala Bortolami, Via Vescovado, 30 – Padova

Program

10.00 – 11.15
John Dyck, CUNY, There Are No Aesthetic Obligations                                                 Comments: Giuseppe Spolaore, Padova

11.15 – 11.30                                                                                                                                     Break

11.30 – 12.45
Alfred Archer, TiLPS, What We Cannot Learn from Saints and Heroes                       Comments: Simone Grigoletto, Padova

12.45 – 15.00                                                                                                                                     Lunch

15.00 – 16.15
Serena Feloj, Pavia, Aesthetic Normativity: A Regulative Approach                          Comments: Barbara Santini, Padova

16.15 – 16.30                                                                                                                                  Break

16.30 – 17.45
Lauren Ware, Kent, The Show Must Go On: Obligatory selfies, aesthetic self-creation, and choice                                                                                                                                       Comments: Elisa Caldarola, Padova

 

Abstracts

John Dyck, There Are No Aesthetic Obligations  

Do aesthetic reasons ever have normative authority over us? Could there be anything like an aesthetic ‘ought’? Some philosophers have argued that there are. I argue to the contrary: There are no aesthetic oughts. We have reasons to act certain ways regarding various aesthetic objects—most notably, reasons to attend to and appreciate those objects. But, I argue, these reasons never amount to duties. This is because aesthetic reasons are evaluative, not deontic. They can only entice us or invite us—they can never compel us. To put it another way: Beauty gives us goods without shoulds.

Alfred Archer, What we Cannot Learn From Saints and Heroes

What can we learn about morality from saints and heroes? According to many, particularly virtue ethicists, moral exemplars have a key role to play in moral development and moral education. More recently Linda Zagzebski (2017) has defended a moral theory in which exemplars play a foundational role. In this paper, I want to consider one specific debate in which the testimony of saints and heroes plays an important role: the debate concerning the existence of acts of supererogation. Acts that go beyond the call of duty are thought to present a problem because they seem to rule out a close connection between what we have moral reason to do and what we are morally required to do. One way to respond to this problem is to deny that such acts exist. Those who make this move typically appeal to the testimony of moral exemplars that suggest that these acts are actually morally required. In this paper I will argue that this testimony does not provide independent evidence against the existence of acts of supererogation. I will do so in part by appealing to similar testimony from aesthetic exemplars. I will finish by arguing that the testimony from both forms of exemplars instead tells us something important about the nature of ideals.

Serena Feloj, Pavia, Aesthetic Normativity: A Regulative Approach

In the light of the current debate on aesthetic normativity, the role played by the aesthetic judgment within Kant’s account has possibly all it takes to be a real game changer. The notion of normativity has been indeed key to an actualizing reading of the subjective universality that for Kant characterizes the aesthetic judgment. However, in the scholarly literature little discussion is made, somehow unsurprisingly, of what exactly we should understand by normativity when it comes to Kant’s aesthetic. I will argue that the sentimentalist elements of Kant’s account call for a revision of its normative interpretations, for a better framing of its subjective universalism, and finally for a reconsideration of aesthetic normativity in favour of regulativity and exemplarity. This will allow a regulative approach to the aesthetic normativity that would like to contribute to a better definition of it within the contemporary debate.

Lauren Ware, The Show Must Go On: Obligatory selfies, aesthetic self-creation, and choice

When beauty beckons, must we accept the invitation? If we accept, are we aesthetically blameworthy to later cancel? Robbie Kubala has recently offered a defence of the existence of aesthetic obligations, grounding them in “the connections that certain aesthetic considerations have to our practical identities” (2018, 271). To the extent that we can make self-promises, we can generate aesthetic obligations when those promises concern aesthetic objects. In this paper, I raise two concerns for Kubala’s claim: the first regarding whether accepting this grounding commits us to a disconcerting level of control over our choice of what, and who, we love; the second regarding whether accepting this grounding commits us to ritual self-destruction.

 

The Aesthetic Normativity Workshop is part of the Analytic Philosophy and Philosophy of Art Graduate Seminar organized by Prof. Massimiliano Carrara, Prof. Giuseppe Spolaore, Prof. Gabriele Tomasi, Dr. Elisa Caldarola, and Dr. Vittorio Morato for the academic year 2018-2019 at the FISPPA Department (Philosophy, Sociology, Pedagogy, and Applied Psychology) of the University of Padova, Italy.

The Aesthetic Normativity Workshop is funded by the University of Padova through the initiative “Supporting TAlent in ReSearch@University of Padova” – STARS Grants (Starting Grant 2018-2020, APAI – “A Philosophy of Art Installation”, P.I. Dr. Elisa Caldarola).

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A must-take picture – Copyright: Elisa Caldarola

Monday, 1 April 2019, David Davies (McGill University), “Artistic value(s) and the value of art: a non-aestheticist account of artistic value”

Venue: Sala Stefanini, Piazza Capitaniato, 3 – Padova, 16.30-18.30

The talk will be live-streamed and will remain available on YouTube. Remote participants can watch the live webcast and ask questions using the YouTube Live chat channel.

Abstract: Philosophical debates about ‘artistic value’ examine the kinds of values that artworks have and ask which of these values bear upon the appreciation of worksas such. What one takes to contribute to artistic value depends upon one’s conception of what makes something art. On standard ‘aestheticist’ conceptions, what makes an artifact an artwork is that it is intended to be appreciated ‘for its own sake’: artistic value is then the value it has when so treated. Aestheticist conceptions of artistic value also understand the latter as experiential. On this conception, it is difficult to see how instrumental and achievement value can be part of artistic value, and for many this also applies to cognitive and ethical value. I explore these debates, and develop and defend an alternative conception of artistic value, grounded in an alternative conception of what makes something a work of art. On this conception, artworks are distinguished by the way in which they are designed to perform whatever may be their intended functions. Artistic value is then a matter of performing a given function well in virtue of performing it in the ways distinctive of artworks.

The Aesthetics Lecture Series is part of the Analytic Philosophy and Philosophy of Art Graduate Seminar organized by Prof. Massimiliano Carrara, Prof. Giuseppe Spolaore, Prof. Gabriele Tomasi, Dr. Elisa Caldarola, and Dr. Vittorio Morato for the academic year 2018-2019 at the FISPPA Department (Philosophy, Sociology, Pedagogy, and Applied Psychology) of the University of Padova, Italy.

The Aesthetics Lecture Series is funded by the University of Padova through the initiative “Supporting TAlent in ReSearch@University of Padova” – STARS Grants (Starting Grant 2018-2020, APAI – “A Philosophy of Art Installation”, P.I. Dr. Elisa Caldarola).

 

Monday, 11 March 2019, Eleen Deprez (University of Kent), “What Are Curated Exhibitions? An Ontological Question”

 

Venue: Sala Stefanini, Piazza Capitaniato, 3 – Padova, 16.30-18.30

Abstract: In this paper I will raise questions about the nature of curated exhibitions. My focus will be on the ontological entity (the identity question) and the identity conditions (the individuation question) of curated exhibitions. I will consider curated exhibitions as a site-responsive (i.e. not site-specific) display of items, that creates an appreciative context and makes an utterance. An exhibition can move location. Exhibitions travel from one museum to another and the display adapts its arrangement each time. Sometimes, a reinstallation will use exactly the same artworks, reuse plinths, reproduce the wall labels, and try – within the scope of the new space – to rehang the works in the same way. More often than not however, a reinstallation looks very different from the original exhibition. We intuit that curated exhibitions can be repeated with significant noticeable differences to their display, but there seem to be some limits. How much can an exhibition change when it is being reinstalled? Are, with respect to the identity of a curated exhibition, some features more significant or consequential than others? I will argue that curated exhibitions are an ontological hybrid: a combined ontological entity. The hybrid theory maintains that a curated exhibition comprises a concrete site-responsive display of works of art and an abstract curatorial utterance made through that display. We shall see that the answer to the individuation question is that two curated exhibitions are identical if their authored-curatorial utterances have the same illocutionary force and if their display supports that utterance through a similar appreciative context.

The Aesthetics Lecture Series is part of the Analytic Philosophy and Philosophy of Art Graduate Seminar organized by Prof. Massimiliano Carrara, Prof. Giuseppe Spolaore, Prof. Gabriele Tomasi, Dr. Elisa Caldarola, and Dr. Vittorio Morato for the academic year 2018-2019 at the FISPPA Department (Philosophy, Sociology, Pedagogy, and Applied Psychology) of the University of Padova, Italy.

The Aesthetics Lecture Series is funded by the University of Padova through the initiative “Supporting TAlent in ReSearch@University of Padova” – STARS Grants (Starting Grant 2018-2020, APAI – “A Philosophy of Art Installation”, P.I. Dr. Elisa Caldarola).

Monday, 4 February 2019, Michel-Antoine Xhignesse (University of British Columbia), “What Makes a Kind an Art Kind?”

Venue: Sala Stefanini, Piazza Capitaniato, 3 – Padova, 16.30-18.30

The talk will be live-streamed and will remain available on YouTube. Remote participants can watch the live webcast and ask questions using the YouTube Live chat channel.

Update (06/02/2019): Unfortunately, we experienced a major problem with our internet connection and were unable to live-stream the whole talk. Apologies for the inconvenience.

Abstract: The premise that every work belongs to an art-kind has recently inspired a kind-centred approach to theories of art. Kind-centred analyses posit that we should abandon the project of giving a general theory of art and focus instead on giving theories of the arts. The main difficulty, however, is to explain what makes a given kind an art-kind in the first place. Kind-centred theorists have passed this buck on to appreciative practices, but this move proves unsatisfactory. I argue that the root of this dissatisfaction stems not from the act of kicking the can down the road, but from not kicking it far enough. The missing ingredient, I argue, is a notion of convention which does the work of marking the difference between art and non-art for a given physical medium.

Michel-Antoine Xhignesse is a SSHRC postdoctoral fellow at the University of British Columbia. His research focuses primarily on the ontology and meta-ontology of art, as well as on the problem of truth in fiction and the influence of authorial intent. His work has been published in the Australasian Journal of Philosophy, the British Journal of Aesthetics, and the Journal of Social Ontology, as well as in two edited collections. He is co-editor of the ASA’s newsletter and co-organizer of the Salish Sea Aesthetics Workshop and the ASA’s eastern division meeting.

The Aesthetics Lecture Series is part of the Analytic Philosophy and Philosophy of Art Graduate Seminar organized by Prof. Massimiliano Carrara, Prof. Giuseppe Spolaore, Prof. Gabriele Tomasi, Dr. Elisa Caldarola, and Dr. Vittorio Morato for the academic year 2018-2019 at the FISPPA Department (Philosophy, Sociology, Pedagogy, and Applied Psychology) of the University of Padova, Italy.

The Aesthetics Lecture Series is funded by the University of Padova through the initiative “Supporting TAlent in ReSearch@University of Padova” – STARS Grants (Starting Grant 2018-2020, APAI – “A Philosophy of Art Installation”, P.I. Dr. Elisa Caldarola, research budget: € 60.000).

Monday, 14 January 2019, Vid Simoniti (University of Liverpool),”Contemporary Art as Political Speech”

Venue: Sala Stefanini, Piazza Capitaniato, 3 – Padova, 16.30-18.30

The talk will be live-streamed and will remain available on YouTube. Remote participants can watch the live webcast and ask questions using the YouTube Live chat channel.

 

Abstract: Much of contemporary installation art presents us with a specific political commitment. Indeed, of all the arts today, biennale-based art comments on pressing political issues most explicitly: on issues such as the deterioration of the environment (e.g. Mark Dion, Agnes Denes), racism (e.g. Adrian Piper, Kara Walker), or the refugee crisis (e.g. Ai Weiwei, Wolfgang Tillmans). However, when do political messages in art hit home, and when do such works merely rehearse public pieties? Or, to put the question more philosophically: can art contribute something unique to political discourse, or does it at best reflect what politicians, pundits and philosophers come up with independently? Here I argue that art can indeed contribute something indispensable to political discourse. My defence requires an update of some of the accepted tenets of aesthetic cognitivism (the view that art is a source of knowledge), but I hope to make these revisions plausible.

Vid Simoniti is a Lecturer in Philosophy at the University of Liverpool. His academic work sits at the cross-roads of aesthetics and history of art; recent publications include “Assessing Socially Engaged Art” in Journal of Aesthetics and Art Criticism; “Adrian Piper and the Rhetoric of Conceptual Art” in Adrian Piper: A Reader; and “Aesthetic Properties as Powers” in The European Journal of Philosophy. Before joining Liverpool in 2018, he was a Junior Research Fellow at the University of Cambridge between 2015 and 2018, and he obtained his doctorate from Oxford in 2015.

The Aesthetics Lecture Series is part of the Analytic Philosophy and Philosophy of Art Graduate Seminar organized by Prof. Massimiliano Carrara, Prof. Giuseppe Spolaore, Prof. Gabriele Tomasi, Dr. Elisa Caldarola, and Dr. Vittorio Morato for the academic year 2018-2019 at the FISPPA Department (Philosophy, Sociology, Pedagogy, and Applied Psychology) of the University of Padova, Italy.

The Aesthetics Lecture Series is funded by the University of Padova through the initiative “Supporting TAlent in ReSearch@University of Padova” – STARS Grants (Starting Grant 2018-2020, APAI – “A Philosophy of Art Installation”, P.I. Dr. Elisa Caldarola, research budget: € 60.000).

Monday, 10 December 2018, Enrico Terrone (University of Barcelona),”The Appreciator’s Performance. Virtual Reality and The Ontology of Art”

Venue: Sala Stefanini, Piazza Capitaniato, 3 – Padova, 16.30-18.30

The talk will be live-streamed and will remain available on YouTube. Remote participants can watch the live webcast and ask questions using the YouTube Live chat channel.

Abstract: The talk begins with an investigation on the ontological status of works of virtual reality. I argue that these are types whose instances are appreciators’ experiences. This introduces an ontological discrepancy between works of virtual reality and films, since the latter are usually conceived of as types whose instances are projections, not experiences. Yet, we can eliminate such a discrepancy if we treat a film, with its peculiar impression of movement, as instantiated by coupling of a projection with the human mind. I argue that the paradigm of virtual reality, according to which works are instantiated by appreciators’ experiences, can be applied not only to films but also to works of music or works of literature, which are usually conceived of as types, and even to paintings, which are usually conceived of as particular objects. I conclude that the paradigm of virtual reality can lead us to a monist ontology of art according to which all works are types that are instantiated by appreciators’ experiences. This ontology can effectively address some issues that other type-based monist ontological accounts of art such as Strawson’s and Currie’s find it hard to face.

Enrico Terrone is Juan de la Cierva Postdoctoral Fellow at the LOGOS Research Group, Universitat de Barcelona. He works on philosophical issues concerning aesthetics, ontology and technology. His main area of research is philosophy of film. He has published papers on international journals such as British Journal of Aesthetics, ErkenntnisThe Monist, Philosophy of the Social Sciences.

The Aesthetics Lecture Series is part of the Analytic Philosophy and Philosophy of Art Graduate Seminar organized by Prof. Massimiliano Carrara, Prof. Giuseppe Spolaore, Prof. Gabriele Tomasi, Dr. Elisa Caldarola, and Dr. Vittorio Morato for the academic year 2018-2019 at the FISPPA Department (Philosophy, Sociology, Pedagogy, and Applied Psychology) of the University of Padova, Italy.

The Aesthetics Lecture Series is funded by the University of Padova through the initiative “Supporting TAlent in ReSearch@University of Padova” – STARS Grants (Starting Grant 2018-2020, APAI – “A Philosophy of Art Installation”, P.I. Dr. Elisa Caldarola, research budget: € 60.000).