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A Critical Realist Perspective on Aesthetic Value

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The following article attempts to bring critical realism to bear on the changing nature of aesthetic value. Beginning with the transitive-intransitive distinction, it is advised that we withhold judgment on the possibility of aesthetic judgment, lest we commit the epistemic fallacy. Without hoping to attain a form of aesthetic value absolutism, a strategy of ‘eliminative realism’ is introduced, which seeks to remove false causes of apparent judgmental relativism. Then a rough sketch of the ontology of art works and art practices is made in order to provide sufficient complexity for the changing aspects of value from different points of view and assumptions. Finally, a case study is given, in the creation of a market of African slingshots in the 1908s, and the theory is tested. The article closes with a plea to take aesthetic value seriously, as a requirement of ideological discussion.


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