An autonomist view on the ethical criticism of architecture

[email protected] (5):131-141 (2016)
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It is a fact that there is ethical criticism about art. Art critics, the general public and even artists point out moral flaws in artworks while evaluating them. Philosophers, however, have maintained a hot debate on the meaning of such criticism. This debate can be understood as a disagreement about the kind of relation between the artistic value of artworks and their alleged moral value. While some claim that moral value can contribute to artistic value (moralism), others claim that there cannot be such a contribution (autonomism). Since at least some works of architecture are artworks, that debate also concerns architecture. A moderate moralist view claims that some works of architecture have moral flaws/merits that bear on their artistic evaluation. In an apparently promising version, the contention is that some moral flaws/merits are aesthetically relevant. In this paper I argue against such contention and defend an autonomist view. Following some taxonomy remarks I distinguish the views in the debate and present two points in favour of autonomism: its simplicity and not having the burden of proof. Then I discuss Carroll’s merited response argument for moralism and I argue that in its best interpretation either it begs the question against autonomism or it is compatible with it. I conclude with some possible objections that may help further investigations on the subject.
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