In Defence of Tourists

Estetika: The European Journal of Aesthetics 60 (2):176-92 (2023)
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It is not uncommon for art historians and philosophers of art to deride the kinds of aesthetic experiences tourists seek out by characterizing them as bowing to the will of the herd, succumbing to peer pressure, or simply seeking out what is popular. Two charges, in particular, tend to be levelled against tourists. The first, which I call the motivation problem, contends that tourists are motivated to seek out aesthetic experiences for the wrong kinds of reasons. The second, which I call the appreciation problem, maintains that tourist tastes are aesthetically uninformed and are thus the inauthentic product of aesthetic luck. But there is a better way of thinking about aesthetic tourism, one that can capture both the tourist’s motivations and the role of aesthetic luck. I argue that aesthetic tourists, like many experts, subscribe to the acquaintance principle, and that doing so generates aesthetic obligations to their practical identity. The tourist, in the end, is no more – and no less – a product of aesthetic luck than the expert connoisseur.

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Michel-Antoine Xhignesse
Capilano University


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