At the borders of arthood : a methodology for the definition of art
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The first-order debate about the definition of art focuses on the ‘What is art?’ question and those who engage in it answer the question by putting forward definitions (or at least characterizations) of art. The second-order debate about the definition of art, on the other hand, focuses on questions like the following one: what are the success-conditions of the definition of art? Under what conditions, that is, does a definition of ‘work of art’ count as successful or correct? In this dissertation, I develop an answer to this second-order question by putting forward a methodology whereby definitions of art can be assessed. The borderline methodology, as I call it, is proposed as an alternative to Stephen Davies’ extensional methodology and Nick Zangwill’s explanatory methodology. According to it, extensional adequacy is the main success-condition of the definition of art, since it is the success-condition whereby much that we believe about works of art (qua works of art) is adequately explained. In particular, there is no way a definition of art is extensionally adequate and yet does not explain that we have beliefs about the ontology of art (Thesis I) and the value of art (Thesis II). I argue for these two fundamental tenets of the borderline methodology in Chapter 2. In Chapter 3, I turn my attention to explanatory power as a success-condition of the definition of art and propose a fine-grained account of it derived from the account of extensional adequacy previously defended. In the light of these two success-conditions of the definition of art, I develop in Chapter 4 two pairs of tests – the extensional adequacy tests and the explanatory power tests – and assess definitions of art on the basis of them, concluding that ‘work of art’ cannot be successfully defined using certain types of logical structure.
Thesis, MPhil Master of Philosophy
Embargo Date: 2023-11-06
Embargo Reason: Thesis restricted in accordance with University regulations. Electronic copy restricted until 6th November 2023
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