Volume 19, Issue 2, 2019
Philosophy of Art
James R. Hamilton
Aesthetic and Artistic Verdicts
In this article I propose a way of thinking about aesthetic and artistic verdicts that would keep them distinct from one another. The former are reflections of the kinds of things we prefer and take pleasure in; the latter are reflections of other judgments we make about the kinds of achievements that are made in works of art. In part to support this view of verdicts, I also propose a way of keeping distinct the description, the interpretation, and the evaluation of works of art. (And along the way, I worry about whether we offer the same kinds of interpretations of the objects of our aesthetic pleasures, properly considered, that we clearly do offer with respect to works of art.) The thesis I propose—the achievement model—is not original with me. What is original, perhaps, is that it is posed as an alternative to two other views of artistic evaluation, namely the appeal to “ideal critics” and the appeal to one way of understanding our preferences with regard to works of art. I do not attempt to show that each of these alternatives meets with insuperable problems; but I do indicate what I take to be the substantive content of those problems. In the end, in order to flesh out the thesis I propose, I borrow some material from the literature on human well-being concerning how we determine what an achievement is.