Art Criticism as Practical Reasoning

British Journal of Aesthetics 57 (3):299-317 (2017)
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Most recent discussions of reasons in art criticism focus on reasons that justify beliefs about the value of artworks. Reviving a long-neglected suggestion from Paul Ziff, I argue that we should focus instead on art-critical reasons that justify actions—namely, particular ways of engaging with artworks. I argue that a focus on practical rather than theoretical reasons yields an understanding of criticism that better fits with our intuitions about the value of reading art criticism, and which makes room for a nuanced distinction between criticism that aims at universality and criticism that is resolutely personal.
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