A long debate in aesthetics concerns the putative reasoned nature of aesthetic criticism. The main question in the debate is whether critics can be said to communicate (normative) reasons for their audience to respond in certain ways, and if so, how to understand these reasons. In this paper, I argue that a great obstacle to making any progress in this debate is the deeply engrained assumption, shared by all the sides of the debate, that reasons can only be either theoretical reasons (i.e., those that explain what to believe or what propositions are true) or practical reasons (i.e., those that explain what is to be done or what actions are good/required/called for/otherwise worthy of doing). My aims are (1) to put pressure on this assumption: the assumption that, if there are critical reasons, they must be either theoretical or practical (the EITHER/OR assumption), and (2) to suggest that, if there are critical reasons, the most central among them are most plausibly neither theoretical nor practical (NEITHER/NOR).
Aesthetics Seminar Convenors: Catharine Abell and James Grant