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Article Title

Agnostic Moralism

Abstract

Many otherwise admired authors in the Western tradition (e.g. Plato, Augustine, and Tolstoy) have defended views about the radical dependence of aesthetic value upon morality that are nowadays regarded with deep skepticism. In more recent work on the connection between moral and aesthetic properties, Noël Carroll, Anne Eaton, Berys Gaut, and others have tried to defend relatively moderate varieties of moralism about art, according to which the aesthetic value of ethically significant artworks sometimes overlaps with but might also independently vary from their moral status. Here, I develop an immoderate species of moralism that treats the type of ethical knowledge inculcated by good art as a species of quasi-competitive skill rather than an outcome of perception or inference. Such a view, I argue, avoids some of the weaknesses that have made earlier philosophers' claims about the moral significance of art seem excessively puritanical to contemporary sensibilities.

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Esthetics Commons

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