The Folk Concept of Art


What is the folk concept of art? Does it track any of the major definitions of art philosophers have proposed? In two preregistered experiments (N=888) focusing on two types of artworks (paintings and musical works), we manipulate three potential features of artworks: intentional creation, the possession of aesthetic value, and institutional recognition. This allows us to investigate whether the folk concept of art fits an essentialist definition drawing on one or more of the manipulated factors, or whether it might be a disjunctive or cluster concept. The results suggest that none of the three manipulated properties are necessary for an object to be art, though some, even by themselves, suffice. The folk concept of art might thus well be a cluster concept instead of an essentialist concept.

Author Profiles

Elzė Sigutė Mikalonytė
Cambridge University
Markus Kneer
University of Graz


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