Creativity as an Artistic Merit

In Berys Nigel Gaut & Matthew Kieran (eds.), Creativity and Philosophy. New York: Routledge. pp. 333-349 (2018)
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The aim of this paper is to explain why creativity is an artistic merit. Artworks and non-artworks can both be creative. But creativity does not help make many other creative things good of their kind. A creative explanation is not a better explanation in virtue of being creative. Why, then, is a creative artwork a better artwork in virtue of being creative? Understanding this will give us a better understanding of the nature of artistic merit. The approach adopted in this paper is as follows. First, I say what creativity is and what an artistic merit is. Second, I identify reasons to doubt that creativity is an artistic merit. A good explanation of the merit of creativity should address these doubts. Third, I develop a theory of artistic merit that appeals to the final value of acting excellently – for example, virtuously or skilfully. Finally, I argue that this enables us to explain why creativity is an artistic merit. This account also enables us to argue that artistic merits give some things final value, and not merely instrumental value. It also provides reason to believe that ethical qualities of artworks enhance their artistic merit for the same reason creativity does.

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James Grant
Oxford University


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