Philosophy and Phenomenological Research 103 (2):408-425 (2021)
AbstractWhat should we do, aesthetically speaking, and why? Any adequate theory of aesthetic normativity must distinguish reasons internal and external to aesthetic practices. This structural distinction is necessary in order to reconcile our interest in aesthetic correctness with our interest in aesthetic value. I consider three case studies—score compliance in musical performance, the look of a mowed lawn, and literary interpretation—to show that facts about the correct actions to perform and the correct attitudes to have are explained by norms internal to a practice. Practice-internal norms, however, cannot settle the distinct question of which practices we have reason to opt into. When it comes to the source of aesthetic normativity—in virtue of what aesthetic value is genuinely reason-giving—I argue that existing accounts, which appeal to pleasure or achievement, are inadequate. The only practice-external aesthetic requirement is a generic one to opt into at least some aesthetic practices.
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