No Hugging, No Learning: The Limitations of Humour

British Journal of Aesthetics 57 (1):51-66 (2017)
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Abstract
I claim that the significance of comic works to influence our attitudes is limited by the conditions under which we find things funny. I argue that we can only find something funny if we regard it as norm-violating in a way that doesn’t make certain cognitive or pragmatic demands upon us. It is compatible with these conditions that humour reinforces our attitude that something is norm-violating. However, it is not compatible with these conditions that, on the basis of finding it funny, we come to reject some existing attitude. Such a rejection would require that we recognize our attitude as norm-violating in a way that has pragmatic force. Thus if a humorous work reveals the absurdity of something, we can either find it funny and not have our attitudes significantly influenced, or else be significantly influenced but not find it funny.
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First archival date: 2019-10-19
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