Experimental Aesthetics and Conceptual Engineering

Erkenntnis (forthcoming)
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Experimental Philosophy (X-Phi) is now a fully-fledged methodological project with applications in almost all areas of analytic philosophy, including, as of recently, aesthetics. Another methodological project which has been attracting attention in the last few years is conceptual engineering (CE). Its areas of implementation are now diverse, but as was the case initially with experimental philosophy, aesthetics has unfortunately been left out (or perhaps aestheticians have failed to pay attention to CE) until now. In this paper, I argue that if conceptual engineers are interested in expanding their project to the field of aesthetics, which would greatly benefit the field, then they should rely on the existing experimental work of aestheticians. Experimental philosophers have only recently started to join forces with conceptual engineers in various fields, as well as to explore the methodological implications of such an alliance. This paper goes a step further by not only arguing that CE has potential in aesthetics, but that the way to realize this potential is to piggyback, so to speak, on the work of experimental aestheticians. In other words, instead of building a CE project in aesthetics from the ground up, this paper describes the support that CE can and should derive from current experimental aesthetics, thereby making the former’s development more efficiently realizable. Furthermore, I argue that doing so would also be beneficial to experimental aesthetics. Currently, the integration of X-Phi to the wider field of aesthetics is losing ground because certain objections—notably, the objection that X-Phi cannot be of relevance to normative questions—have not been properly refuted. By pairing up with a normative programme like CE, though, experimental aestheticians should finally be able to put these objections to rest.
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Archival date: 2022-05-12
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