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Hanson, Louise, , . The Reality of (Non-Aesthetic) Value
2013, Philosophical Quaterly 63(252): 492-508.
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Added by: Clotilde Torregrossa, Contributed by: Christy Mag Uidhir

Abstract: It has become increasingly common for philosophers to make use of the concept of artistic value, and, further, to distinguish artistic value from aesthetic value. In a recent paper, ‘The Myth of (Non-Aesthetic) Artistic Value’, Dominic Lopes takes issue with this, presenting a kind of corrective to current philosophical practice regarding the use of the concept of artistic value. Here I am concerned to defend current practice against Lopes’s attack. I argue that there is some unclarity as to what aspect of this practice Lopes is objecting to, and I distinguish three kinds of objection that he could be read as making. I argue that none of these is adequately supported by Lopes’s arguments, and that the corresponding three aspects of current philosophical practice are on firmer footing than Lopes’s paper suggests. A new, plausible characterisation of artistic value will emerge from this discussion.

Comment: This paper would be useful for undergrads and postgrads studying and questioning the difference between aesthetic value and artistic value, the dependence relation between features of works and their value, and generally the metaphysical basis of value in art. Hanson is very clear about her argumentative strategy. This makes the paper a prime example of good philosophical methodology.

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van Brabant, Petra, , Prinz, Jesse. Why Do Porn Films Suck?
2012, in Art and Pornography: Philosophical Essays, ed. by Hans Maes and Jerrold Levinson (Oxford: Oxford University Press).
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Added by: Simon Fokt, Contributed by:

Content: The authors present ‘the paradox of porn’: pornography seems to score very highly on various evaluative criteria which make art good (e.g. ability to elicit strong emotions), and has features similar to great art (e.g. ‘Brechtian’ acting, idealisation of the human body), yet is rarely consider art. They proceed to discuss some arguments for the exclusivist thesis, suggesting that they ‘reflect a limited knowledge of or experience with pornography’ (168). A review of various types of non-mainstream porn leads them to claim that the division between pornography and art is a false dichotomy. Section 3 revisits the paradox, offering an analysis of various reasons which could lead to so little porn being (considered) art. After rejecting most of the common arguments, the authors suggest that a great majority of porn is not art for purely contingent reasons: very few pornographers even try to pursue that possibility. But pornography has the potential to be great art, and section 4 explores the ways in which it could.

Comment: This text is a fairly easy and a very entertaining read, and is presented in a form of an intriguing and unexpected paradox. This makes it an excellent introductory reading which can really interest students in the subject. It also paints a very varied and diverse picture of pornography, reaching far beyond the mainstream images most often discussed in the literature, and likely best known to students.

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Werhane, Patricia H., , . Evaluating the Classificatory Process
1979, The Journal of Aesthetics and Art Criticism, 37: 352–54.
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Added by: Simon Fokt, Contributed by:

Content: In this short discussion paper, Werhane challenges the distinction between the classificatory and evaluative senses of ‘art’ defended by George Dickie. Many of the criteria which matter in the selective classificatory process are evaluative in nature, and thus even institutional classification of art depends on evaluation. This means that sometimes people whom institutionalists would interpret as using ‘art’ in the evaluative sense (e.g. in saying: ‘this is not art!’), should rather be seen as using it in the classificatory sense, evaluating the classificatory process (e.g. meaning: ‘the process which led to classifying this as art is wrong, because this should not be classified as art’).

Comment: Despite its focus on the institutional definitions of art, this paper can have a wider application to the general discussion on the possibility and appropriateness of separating the classificatory and evaluative uses of the concept ‘art’. This makes it particularly well suited as a further reading in teaching on the proceduralist-functionalist debate (or, since it is very short, an extra required reading).

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