“Beauty is Objective”

4 May 2016; 1600-18:00

Senate House – Room 243


Once we have distinguished between beauty and aesthetic value, we are faced with the question of whether beauty is a thing of value in itself.  A number of theorists have suggested that the answer might be no.  They have thought that the pursuit of beauty is just the indulgence of one particular taste: a taste that has, for contingent historical reasons, been privileged.  This paper attempts to resist a line of thought that leads to that conclusion, by arguing that there really are objective facts about beauty.  To do this it draws distinctions between objectivity and subjectivity, and between realism and anti-realism, and then argues that, for attributions of beauty, would should be realists and objectivists.  This is shown to be compatible with taking the semantic content of such attributions to vary between contexts.  Such context sensitivity is able to account of those features of beauty-attributions that have been taken as evidence for its subjectivity.