Neutrality, Cultural Literacy, and Arts Funding

Ergo: An Open Access Journal of Philosophy 10 (55):1588-1617 (2024)
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Despite the widespread presence of public arts funding in liberal societies, some liberals find it unjustified. According to the Neutrality Objection, arts funding preferences some ways of life. One way to motivate this challenge is to say that a public goods-styled justification, although it could relieve arts funding of these worries of partiality, cannot be argued for coherently or is, in the end, too susceptible to impressions of partiality. I argue that diversity-based arts funding can overcome this challenge, because it invests in non-excludable infrastructure that fosters cultural literacy. We all have some interest as citizens in living in a society which fosters cultural literacy, seeing as this helps others to understand us, supports us to understand ourselves, and helps alleviate confusion and alienation we feel toward social difference. While some of these benefits can be enjoyed by those who make and consume art, they are also gained by those who don’t, because arts funding affects the makeup of public spaces and the communicative practices we all use to make sense of the world.

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Jack Hume
University College London


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