Digital Commons@RISD Home > Division of Liberal Arts > Contemporary Aesthetics (Journal Archive) > Vol. 17 (2019)
Should we take into account an artist’s personal moral failings when appreciating or evaluating the work? In this essay, I seek to expand Berys Gaut’s account of ethicism by showing how moral judgment of an artist’s private moral actions can figure in one’s overall evaluation of their work. To expand Gaut’s view, I argue that the artist’s personal morality is relevant to our evaluation of their work because we may only come to understand the point of view of the work, and therefore the work’s prescribed attitude, by examining the values, attitudes, and behaviors of the artist. This view is defended against a rival account offered by Bernard Wills and Jason Holt, which holds that the artistic evaluation of an artist’s work is independent from the moral evaluation of their life except in extreme cases.