What is Art? The Role of Intention, Beauty, and Institutional Recognition

Proceedings of the Annual Meeting of the Cognitive Science Society 45:3039-3047 (2023)
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In two experiments (N=888), we explore to what extent the folk concept of art is compatible with the leading philosophical definitions of art, and whether it is an essentialist or a non-essentialist concept. We manipulate three factors: whether an object is created intentionally, whether it has aesthetic value, and whether it is institutionally recognized. In addition, we also manipulate the artistic domain (visual art or music). The results suggest that none of the three properties is seen by the folk as necessary for an object to be considered art, which suggests that the folk concept of art might be a cluster concept.

Author Profiles

Markus Kneer
University of Graz
Elzė Sigutė Mikalonytė
Cambridge University


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