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Aesthetic Properties as Powers

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jats:pRealist positions about aesthetic properties are few and far between, though sometimes developed by analogy to realism about secondary properties such as colours. By contrast, I advance a novel realist position about aesthetic properties, which is based on a disanalogy between aesthetic properties and colours. Whereas colours are usually perceived as relatively steady features of external objects, aesthetic properties are perceived as unsteady properties: as powers that objects have to cause a certain experience in the observer. Following on from this observation, I develop a realist account of aesthetic properties as causally efficient powers. Beauty is not merely in the mind of the observer; it is a power of an object to bring about a certain effect, as much instantiated in the object as its fragility or poisonousness. To show how such a view can be made ontologically respectable, I draw on recent ‘dispositionalist’ accounts of powers in philosophical metaphysics. I then offer two arguments in favour of this view. First, the view matches the phenomenology of aesthetic judgement. Second, the view offers an explanation of how it is that critics can demand agreement with their aesthetic judgements.</jats:p>



5003 Philosophy, 50 Philosophy and Religious Studies, 5002 History and Philosophy Of Specific Fields

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European Journal of Philosophy

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University of Oxford (Scatcherd Scholarship), Churchill College, Cambridge (Jeffrey Rubinoff Junior Research Fellowship)