Expressivism and Arguing about Art

British Journal of Aesthetics 58 (2):181-191 (2018)
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Peter Kivy claims that expressivists in aesthetics cannot explain why we argue about art. The situation would be different in the case of morals. Moral attitudes lead to action, and since actions affect people, we have a strong incentive to change people’s moral attitudes. This can explain why we argue about morals, even if moral language is expressive of our feelings. However, judgements about what is beautiful and elegant need not significantly affect our lives. So why be concerned with other people’s feelings about art? Kivy thinks the best explanation of our tendency to argue about art is that we implicitly believe in objective facts about aesthetics. This would count against expressivism. I argue two things: that there is no good reason to think that we don’t care about preferences and emotions unless they have significant practical consequences and that the truth of expressivism about aesthetic language is compatible with beliefs about objective aesthetic facts.
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