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Feagin, Susan L., , . The pleasures of Tragedy
1983, American Philosophical Quarterly 20 (1): 95-104.
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Added by: Laura Jimenez, Contributed by: Christy Mag Uidhir

Summary: This article addresses a paradox that has puzzled philosophers of art since Aristotle: tragedies produce, and are designed to produce, pleasure for the audiences, without supposing any special callousness or insensitivity on their part. The author introduces a distinction which enables us to understand how we can feel pleasure in response to tragedy, and which also sheds some light on the complexity of such responses. The virtues of this approach lie in its straightforward solution to the paradox of tragedy as well as the bridges the approach builds between this and some other traditional problems in aesthetics, and the promising ways in which we are helped to see their relationships. In particular, we are helped to understand the feeling many have had about the greatness of tragedy in comparison to comedy, and provided a new perspective from which to view the relationship between art and morality.

Comment: Really clear introduction to the nature of the relationship between aesthetic and moral value, and specifically to the topic of meta-responses to art. The last section of the paper also throws some light upon the differences between responses and meta-responses to real situations and to art. The reading is not very difficult so in principle, it could be used by undergraduate students. On the other hand, the paper contains some very specialised detail, so it might be recommendable to use it for postgraduate courses in both ethics and aesthetics.

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Friend, Stacie, , . The pleasures of documentary tragedy
2007, British Journal of Aesthetics 47 (2):184-198.
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Added by: Chris Blake-Turner, Contributed by: Christy Mag Uidhir

Abstract: Two assumptions are common in discussions of the paradox of tragedy: (1) that tragic pleasure requires that the work be fictional or, if non-fiction, then non-transparently represented; and (2) that tragic pleasure may be provoked by a wide variety of art forms. In opposition to (1) I argue that certain documentaries could produce tragic pleasure. This is not to say that any sad or painful documentary could do so. In considering which documentaries might be plausible candidates, I further argue, against (2), that the scope of tragic pleasure is limited to works that possess certain thematic and narrative features.

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Hewitt, Sharon, , . What do our intuitions about the experience machine really tell us about hedonism?
2010, Philosophical Studies 151 (3):331 - 349
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Added by: Simon Fokt, Contributed by: Lizzy Ventham

Abstract: Robert Nozick’s experience machine thought experiment is often considered a decisive refutation of hedonism. I argue that the conclusions we draw from Nozick’s thought experiment ought to be informed by considerations concerning the operation of our intuitions about value. First, I argue that, in order to show that practical hedonistic reasons are not causing our negative reaction to the experience machine, we must not merely stipulate their irrelevance (since our intuitions are not always responsive to stipulation) but fill in the concrete details that would make them irrelevant. If we do this, we may see our feelings about the experience machine becoming less negative. Second, I argue that, even if our feelings about the experience machine do not perfectly track hedonistic reasons, there are various reasons to doubt the reliability of our anti-hedonistic intuitions. And finally, I argue that, since in the actual world seeing certain things besides pleasure as ends in themselves may best serve hedonistic ends, hedonism may justify our taking these other things to be intrinsically valuable, thus again making the existence of our seemingly anti-hedonistic intuitions far from straightforward evidence for the falsity of hedonism

Comment: I always use this alongside the original Nozick discussion of the experience machine, and always when I'm discussing hedonism or theories of well-being. Hewitt examines the experience machine thought experiments in a good level of detail and provides some interesting arguments as to whether we should take our intuitions about it sincerely.

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Korsmeyer, Carolyn, , . Pleasure: Reflections on aesthetics and feminism
1993, Journal of Aesthetics and Art Criticism 51 (2):199-206.
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Added by: Chris Blake-Turner, Contributed by: Christy Mag Uidhir

Introduction: For some time my own interests in aesthetics and in feminism appeared to run parallel yet mutually exclusive courses, but it seems to me now that philosophical aesthetics and feminist views of culture have begun to dovetail and to share certain concerns and orientations. Philo sophical aesthetics is not by and large taking note of this, however, and in the first section of this essay I argue that feminist perspectives pro vide a vantage from which the appearance of breakdown in unified theorizing can be seen to have an underlying order and pattern.2 Thus at first I shall emphasize a potential harmony be tween feminist critiques and recent directions in aesthetics. Then in the second section I shall focus on one of the subjects that has all but dropped from view in the reshuffling of the oretic concerns: aesthetic appreciation or plea sure. I argue that this concept is urgently in need of reexamination, a need that is especially evi dent when we consider feminist alternatives to the traditional idea of aesthetic pleasure.

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Ventham, Elizabeth, , . Reflective Blindness, Depression and Unpleasant Experiences
, Analysis, (forthcoming)
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Added by: Simon Fokt, Contributed by: Lizzy Ventham

Abstract: This paper defends a desire-based understanding of pleasurable and unpleasant experiences. More specifically, the thesis is that what makes an experience pleasant/unpleasant is the subject having a certain kind of desire about that experience. I begin by introducing the ‘Desire Account’ in more detail, and then go on to explain and refute a prominent set of contemporary counter-examples, based on subjects who might have ‘Reflective Blindness’, looking particularly at the example of subjects with depression. I aim to make the Desire Account more persuasive, but also to clear up more widespread misunderstandings about depression in metaethics. For example, mistakes that are made by conflating two of depression’s most prominent symptoms: depressed mood and anhedonia.

Comment: Argues in favour of a 'desire account' of pleasurable and unpleasant experiences. Looks in particular at cases of depression and aims to clear up wider misunderstandings about depression in metaethics.

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