London Aesthetics Forum

London Aesthetics Forum
7 June 2019, 4.00pm - 6.00pm
Room 243, Second Floor, Senate House, Malet Street, London WC1E 7HU


Let's be Liberal: An Alternative to Aesthetic Hedonism 

Antonia Peacocke (NYU/Stanford)


Aesthetic hedonism—roughly, the view on which an object's aesthetic value derives from its tendency to generate pleasure—has recently been called the "default view" and the "party line" in philosophical aesthetics. Aesthetic hedonism does meet four key adequacy conditions on an account of aesthetic value, but it does so in a way that makes no theoretical use of the distinctive features of pleasure. For that reason, I develop an alternative to aesthetic hedonism that meets the same adequacy conditions without the needless restriction to pleasure as the ground of aesthetic value. This is aesthetic liberalism. On this view, an object’s aesthetic value consists in its perceptual features’ tendency to generate distinctively merited valuable responses in the right kind of phenomenal experience. To demonstrate the advantages of liberalism over hedonism, I apply both views to analyze the aesthetic value of the Spring Temple Buddha and Anselm Kiefer's Seraphim. I close by considering an objection adapted from James Shelley's work on 'onward hedonism


The London Aesthetics Forum (LAF) is a Forum of the Institute of Philosophy at the University of London’s School of Advanced Study. With lectures on topics in aesthetics and philosophy of art, LAF aims to stimulate philosophical reflection on art. Our events are free and open to all.

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We are generously sponsored by the British Society of Aesthetics

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