Toward a Science of Criticism: Aesthetic Values, Human Nature, and the Standard of Taste

In Cognition, Literature, and History. Routledge. pp. 229-242 (2014)
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The aesthetic skeptic maintains that it is futile to dispute about taste. One and the same work of art might appear beautiful to one person but repellent to another, and we have no reason to prefer one or another of these conflicting verdicts. Hume argues that the skeptic, however, moves too quickly. The crucial question is whether qualified critics will agree on their evaluations. And the skeptic fails to provide sufficient evidence that their verdicts will diverge. We have reason to expect that a consensus will emerge over time, moreover, since aesthetic values are grounded on universal principles of human nature. Skeptics might doubt that there is a natural basis for a standard of taste, but this proposal is supported by recent work in experimental aesthetics and cognitive science.
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