Digital Commons@RISD Home > Division of Liberal Arts > Contemporary Aesthetics (Journal Archive) > Vol. 15 (2017)
Is it wrong to enjoy art created by immoral people? Some people express discomfort with listening to or reading the works of artists who have been abusive to others in their personal lives. In this paper, the authors argue that, generally speaking, moral and aesthetic judgment should be kept distinct, as authors and their works formally differ. Indeed, works by morally dubious artists may well contain crucial acts of moral imagination we should not deprive ourselves of as ethical beings. Nonetheless, the authors argue there are limits to how far the ethical and aesthetic can be divorced. Art that is completely divorced from the good ceases thereby to be art no matter what its formal beauty. Thus, it is possible, in principle, to identify works of art whose authorship would be an obstacle to aesthetic appreciation.