Aesthetic Animism

Philosophical Studies (11):1-36 (2022)
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Abstract
I argue that the main existing accounts of the relationship between the beauty of environmental entities and their moral standing are mistaken in important ways. Beauty does not, as has been suggested by optimists, confer intrinsic moral standing. Nor is it the case, as has been suggested by pessimists, that beauty at best provides an anthropocentric source of moral standing that is commensurate with other sources of pleasure. I present arguments and evidence that show that the appreciation of beauty tends to cause a transformational state of mind that is more valuable than mere pleasure, but that leads us to falsely represent beautiful entities as being sentient and, in turn, as having intrinsic moral standing. To this extent, beauty is not, then, a source of intrinsic moral standing; it’s a source of a more important anthropocentric value than has hitherto been acknowledged.
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2022
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First archival date: 2022-03-14
Latest version: 3 (2022-06-21)
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2022-03-14

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