Goal of interpretation


Actual intentionalism (AI)

Meaning of work is what author intended

What did artist mean? Goal of art is communication from artist to audience

Unrealized intentions

Example: Jokes that are not funny even though intended to be so

Moderate actual intentionalism (MAI)

Meaning is author’s realized intentions (in part)

What did the artist successfully mean?

Might the work mean more than this?

Hypothetical intentionalism


Meaning determined by most justified account of what an author might have intended

What a possible author most likely to have meant by this work

Author’s actual intentions might be very different: James’ Turn of the Screw. View gives up intentionalism for value max?

                   Value maximization



Interpretation that maximize work’s artistic value is work’s true meaning


Goal of interpretation to maximize the rewards of appreciation (consistent with respecting the identity and content of work)

Goal of interpretation should be to understand art (including its weaknesses)

Meaning constructivism (MC)

Interpretations create new meanings (hence artworks)

To create significance for the interpreter

Interpretations (like descriptions or pointing at things) don’t alter what they interpret

“Best fit view”

Privileges the interpretation(s) that seems to best fit the text/artwork, independent of (1) artist’s intentions or (2) maximizing artistic value (VM) or (3) reading in significance for audiences (MC)