Must Reasons be Either Theoretical or Practical? Aesthetic Criticism and Appreciative Reasons

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A long debate in aesthetics concerns the reasoned nature of criticism. The main questions in the debate are whether criticism is based on (normative) reasons, whether critics communicate reasons for their audience’s responses, and if so, how to understand these critical reasons. I argue that a great obstacle to making any progress in this debate is the deeply engrained assumption, shared by all sides of the debate, that reasons can only be either theoretical reasons (i.e., those that explain what to believe or what propositions are true) or practical reasons (i.e., those that explain what is to be done or what actions are good/required/called for/otherwise worthy of doing). My aims are (1) to put pressure on this assumption that, if there are critical reasons, they must be either theoretical or practical (the EITHER/OR assumption), and (2) to suggest that, if there are critical reasons, the most central among them are neither theoretical nor practical (NEITHER/NOR).
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Archival date: 2021-05-12
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