Reasoned and Unreasoned Judgement: On Inference, Acquaintance and Aesthetic Normativity

British Journal of Aesthetics 57 (1):1-17 (2017)
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Aesthetic non-inferentialism is the widely-held thesis that aesthetic judgements either are identical to, or are made on the basis of, sensory states like perceptual experience and emotion. It is sometimes objected to on the basis that testimony is a legitimate source of such judgements. Less often is the view challenged on the grounds that one’s inferences can be a source of aesthetic judgements. This paper aims to do precisely that. According to the theory defended here, aesthetic judgements may be unreasoned, insofar as they are immediate judgements made on the basis of, and acquiring their justification from, causally prior sensory states. Yet they may also be reasoned, insofar as they may be the outputs of certain inferences. Crucially, a token aesthetic judgement may be unreasoned and reasoned, simultaneously. A key reason for allowing inference a serious role in aesthetic judgements emerges from reflection upon the nature of aesthetic expertise.

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Dan Cavedon-Taylor
Open University (UK)


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