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BSA Connections | Aesthetics and Political Epistemology

19 – 21 June 2023
University of Liverpool

Sponsored by the British Society of Aesthetics Connections grant. 

In analytic philosophy recently, there has been a shift of interest towards political culture. Topics like ideology, propaganda, persuasion and epistemic injustice are now central themes within Anglophone epistemology and political philosophy. These approaches, gathered around the field of “political epistemology”, now acknowledge that contingent cultural influences play a key role in political reasoning, knowledge formation and emancipation.  

We propose that the philosophical study of such phenomena can be productively approached through a conversation with work in aesthetics and philosophy of art.  

For instance, feminist and anti-racist aestheticians have long pointed out how oppressive stereotypes inhere in dominant cultural categories. Other philosophers of art have reflected on the distinction between cognitively valuable art and propaganda. Aesthetical analyses of political art, metaphor, cultural appropriation, unethical art also bear similarities to the epistemologists’ concern with how ideas spread within a political space. 

Bringing together aestheticians, epistemologists and political philosophers, some questions this conference will pose include: 

  • What role can art play in political discourse? 
  • Is there a cognitive distinction between (mere) propaganda and (valuable) political art? 
  • Are flawed ideologies best repaired by cultural expression? 
  • What role do narrative, metaphor, imagination or aesthetic experience play in political discourse? 
  • How do new forms of deception (e.g. deep fakes) relate to visual culture studied in aesthetics (photography, painting)?  
  • How do debates about free speech, blocking and partisan epistemology relate to cultural expression? 

The confirmed speakers are Gemma Bird (Liverpool), Sarah Fine (Cambridge), Rachel Fraser (Oxford), Alice Halberd (UCL), Allan Hazlett (Washington), C. Thi Nguyen (Utah, online), Alexandra Plakias (Hamilton, online), Justo Serrano Zamora (Málaga), Paul C. Taylor (Vanderbilt), Lauren Ware (Kent) and Emilia L. Wilson (St Andrews).

The exact schedule is to follow, but the conference will begin Monday 19 June at 12:30 and conclude by Wednesday 21 June at 15:30.

It is possible to attend this event virtually or in person—please select the relevant option when registering. While registration is free, there is a small charge (£5) if you would like to be included in the catered lunches. For the lunch option, simply select the relevant option when registering. If you have any questions please contact the organisers at livpolaesthetics@gmail.com

In person registration https://payments.liv.ac.uk/conferences-and-events/events-at-liverpool/school-of-the-arts/british-society-of-aesthetics-connections-aesthetics-and-political-epistemology-ticket-incl-lunch

Online registration https://www.eventbrite.co.uk/e/virtual-admission-bsa-connections-aesthetics-and-political-epistemology-tickets-608377743207