The Scottish Aesthetics Forum is delighted to announce its next lecture:
Dr Louise Hanson (Cambridge)
“Robust Moral Realism and Robust Aesthetic Realism”
Thursday, 26 April, 2018, 4:15 – 6:00pm
Dugald Steward Building, Room 3.11
University of Edinburgh
The lecture is free and open to all!
Abstract: “It’s increasingly popular in metaethics to accept a thesis known asRobust Moral Realism (RMR), where RMR is committed, among other things, to a particularly strong form of mind-independence for moral properties, that requires them to be (relevantly) independent of the attitudes of not only actual observers, but ideal observers too. According to RMR, slavery’s wrongness, for example, is not a matter of what anyone, real or ideal, would think about it, or how anyone, real or idea, would feel about it. RMR can say, then, that slavery would be wrong even if everybody thought it was right, and even if ideal observers (specified in non-moral terms) would think it was right.
Consider an aesthetic counterpart of RMR – what I shall call Robust Aesthetic Realism (RAR). RAR would be committed, analogously, to a particularly strong form of mind-independence for beauty, that requires beauty to be (relevantly) independent of the attitudes of not only actual observers, but ideal observers too. RAR can say that Venice would be beautiful even if everyone thought it was ugly, and even if ideal observers (specified in non-aesthetic terms) would think it was ugly.
It’s striking that while RMR is popular, RAR is not at all popular. Further, most philosophers take robust realism to be more plausible in the moral case that in the aesthetic case. There are two ways that this widespread view about the relative tenability of the two theses could be correct. The first way is what I callObstacle Asymmetry: RAR faces obstacles that RMR doesn’t face. The second I call Motivation Asymmetry: RMR is better motivated than RAR – there are compelling arguments for RMR that lack counterparts in the aesthetic case.
This paper considers whether Motivation Asymmetry holds. I argue that there is no good reason to think it does. I consider the three main kinds of argument that are commonly taken to supply a motivation for RMR, and I argue that each is no less compelling in the aesthetic case. If I am right, then in the absence of further arguments for RMR, we should take robust realism to be no less motivated in the aesthetic case than in the moral case.
This is a surprising result. Metaethicists often talk as though the considerations that motivate RMR are specifically ethical ones, and as though RAR is not correspondingly well-motivated.”
About the speaker: Louise Hanson is Director of Studies in Philosophy at Fitzwilliam and Churchill Colleges at Cambridge. Her research includes work on conceptual art, artistic value as distinct from aesthetic value, and analogies between aesthetics and ethics. She was formerly a lecturer at Oxford where she received her doctorate.”
Additional information: The lecture will be followed by a dinner with our speaker. If you would like to attend the dinner, please contact the organisers by 21 April.
*** There are limited funds to cover dinner expenses for two students, offered on a first-come-first-served basis. ***