Art, Moral Value, and Significance
Degree GrantorUniversity of Canterbury
Degree NameMaster of Arts
Debate concerning the relationship between ethics and aesthetics has re-emerged in contemporary aesthetic literature. All of the major contemporary positions, I argue, treat this relationship as existing between the "moral value" of art and its aesthetic value. Throughout this thesis I analyse the various "value- based" positions (ethicism, moderate moralism, and contextualism) and examine whether their accounts of this relationship hold. My aim is to explore whether an alternative account - in which the aesthetic value of art can be enhanced or negated through its "moral significance", rather than its "moral value" - is plausible. I argue, that given the failure of these value- based positions we should favour a "significance- based contexutalist" approach that is better equipped to account for the complexity of both our engagement with art, and the moral reflection that it invites.