There Are No Purely Aesthetic Obligations

Pacific Philosophical Quarterly 102 (4):592-612 (2021)
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Do aesthetic reasons have normative authority over us? Could there be anything like an aesthetic ‘ought’ or an aesthetic obligation? I argue that there are no aesthetic obligations. We have reasons to act certain ways regarding various aesthetic objects – most notably, reasons to attend to and appreciate those objects. But, I argue, these reasons never amount to duties. This is because aesthetic reasons are merely evaluative, not deontic. They can only entice us or invite us – they can never compel us. Beauty gives us goods without shoulds.

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John Dyck
Auburn University


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