A critique of the value interaction debate

Rafe McGregor

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11 Citations (Scopus)
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The purpose of this article is to show that the value interaction debate is deeply flawed and constitutes a superficial analysis of the relationship between morality and art. I introduce the debate, which concerns whether a moral defect in a work of art is (also) an aesthetic defect, in Section 1. Section 2 establishes the vagueness of two key terms in the discussion, moral defects and aesthetic defects. In Section 3, I introduce the naive assumption-uninteresting claim disjunction, identifying five of the six approaches as demonstrating a fundamental naivety about the relationship between morality and narrative art. I show, in Section 4, that four of the six are philosophically uninteresting as they offer an incomplete - and ultimately unsatisfactory - explanation of this relationship. In Section 5, I discuss the quantity and quality of examples employed in the debate, many of which are non-canonical, and some of which are entirely inappropriate. I conclude by recommending a reorientation of the debate to focus on the underlying question of whether the characteristically artistic value is finally or instrumentally valuable.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)449-466
Number of pages18
JournalBritish Journal of Aesthetics
Issue number4
Publication statusPublished - 1 Oct 2014
Externally publishedYes


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