Philosophy Colloquium on Aesthetics and Ethics

Posted on 10/22/2019 8:57:55 AM

The Philosophy Department is pleased to announce that Gregory Strom (University of Pittsburgh) will give a talk titled “Aesthetic Agency and Aesthetic Ethics” on Friday, October 25, at 3:30 in the Humanities and Social Sciences Building, room 117.


Venerable figures in the history of philosophy from Plato to Murdoch have asserted that in some crucial sense beauty is not just necessary for, but central to, an ethically well-lived life. An ethically well-lived life, according to this idea, is an aesthetically well-lived life, or something like that. In spite of its provenance, however, this thesis is largely neglected as a potential rival to deontology, consequentialism and virtue theory in contemporary debates about the foundations of ethics. Still, it should be possible to make the case for an aesthetic ethics presentable in a contemporary idiom. My goal is to make a contribution toward that project by providing a philosophically illuminating account of artistic activity on the basis of which it will become clearer why it would make sense to think that the special character of artistic activity—the activity, that is, of the artist qua artist—is a good model for an ethically well-lived life.