Paper Assignment, Philosophy 280: Aesthetics (Fall 07)

Write a 5-8 page paper on a topic of your choice in aesthetics (this includes, the philosophy of art, environmental aesthetics, and the aesthetics of the everyday). Your paper must focus on philosophical dimensions of the topic you choose and it must tie in with the ideas explored in this course in a significant way. (It must be clear in the paper that the writer of the paper was in this course.) Within these constraints, you are free to choose any topic. The paper should do two–equally important--things: Clearly explain (and analyze) what (some) others have said about the topic you choose and develop your own ideas, thoughts, and arguments about this topic. To insure that your discussion is grounded in (some of) the preexisting literature on your topic, you are required to use at least one “outside” philosophical article (or book) in your paper. The “own ideas” dimension of your paper might include criticizing (or supporting with your own reasons) the ideas of others or comparing or synthesizing them.

A one-page, typewritten description of the proposed paper is due on Friday, Oct. 26, 1pm 16 Glebe Mailbox. These paper proposals should identify the topic of the paper and give a synopsis of its expected content (as much as possible). They should have a proposed title. Describe the major arguments, reasons, or perspectives on the issue that the paper will explore. Try to identify and consider possible objections to the line of thinking you plan to pursue. Identify a major thesis and possible conclusion to the paper. Issues or questions that you would like help with should also be mentioned. Additionally, your paper proposal should identify and briefly summarize your outside philosophical article and explain how you will use it for your paper.

Journals in the library that are good places to look for supporting philosophical material include The Journal of Aesthetics and Art Criticism and The British Journal of Aesthetics (both of which are in the library and available electronically). There are also philosophical articles in The Journal of Aesthetic Education (also in the library and available electronically). You can search the above journals on line (in some cases by keyword and in others by looking at titles). Aesthetics-on-line has a page with links to aesthetics bibliographies: These aesthetics encyclopedias might also be of use: Encyclopedia of Aesthetics / editor in chief, Michael Kelly New York : Oxford University Press, 1998 (4 volumes)

Reference Collection BH56 .E53 1998 and A Companion to Aesthetics / edited by David E. Cooper, Blackwell Reference, 1992. Finally, I have put a link to my personal bibliography on the course web page. This bibliography has many entries in environmental aesthetics and some it other areas of aesthetics:

One simple way to find you outside philosophical article would be to choose one of the articles from Arguing about Art that we will not be reading.

The paper is due on Friday, November 16, 1pm, 14 Glebe, mailbox

Possible topic areas: Any of the course topics are appropriate subject matter (but others are okay as well). In addition to the list below, look at the course schedule and the midterm study questions to stimulate your choice of a topic. Don’t ignore topics we will be covering during the second half of the course. You might also write a paper that consists in an explication and critical analysis of a philosophical article in the area of aesthetics, including one we have read (though your will have to work harder for originality if you choose one of these).


           Ontology of music (Davies Ch 4)

           Colorization of movies (see defense by James O. Young British Journal of Aesthetics 28 (1988) 368-72 and Yuriko Saito”Contemporary Aesthetic Issue: The Colorization Controversy” Journal of Aesthetics Education 23:2 1989 21-31

           Controversies about museums (Davies, Ch 1, pp. 13 ff.)

           Restoration of artworks

           Relation of ethics and aesthetics; is ethics relevant to aesthetics?

           The moral evaluation of art

           The (im)possibility of beautiful but harmful nature

           Are moral concerns relevant to the aesthetic appreciation of nature? Is it wrong to aesthetically appreciate an atom bomb mushroom cloud or a pollution sunset? Is it aesthetically inappropriate or only morally so (or is it aesthetically inappropriate because it is morally inappropriate)?

           Davies distinction between artistic value and aesthetic value


           Exploration of one of the conceptions of the nature of art: representation, formalism, expression theory, the institutional theory, Danto’s historical account

           Avant-garde art and definitions of art

           True beliefs and appropriate aesthetic appreciation

           If a person’s aesthetic appreciation is based on a false belief, does that mean that appreciation is deficient? Suppose one believes that the lakes in Minnesota were created by Paul Bunyan’s blue ox Babe and that one has a powerful aesthetic response to those lakes because of this belief. Is this an appropriate appreciation of nature? Is it as appropriate as an equally powerful aesthetic response based on knowledge of glaciation and how kettle ponds form?

           The aesthetic appreciation of nature

           Carroll versus Carlson

           “Emotions versus Cognition” in the aesthetic appreciation of nature: The Carroll/Carlson debate

           Criticize or defend positive aesthetics for nature (and for art?)

           Objectivity vs subjectivity in aesthetics

           Objectivity in environmental aesthetics

           Is the aesthetics of art more objective than the aesthetics of nature?

           Food as art

           Are the Beatles as good as Beethoven?

           A defense or critique of contemporary rock music

           The nature of aesthetic properties

           Realism vs anti-realism about aesthetic properties

           Art forgeries: Philosophical issues

           How important is artistic intention to art interpretation?

           How can we be moved emotionally by fiction?

           Public art

           Public Subsidies for art: for and against

           Censorship of art: for and against

           Is environmental art an aesthetic affront to nature?

           What is sentimentality and what is wrong with it?

           Philosophical dimensions of architecture (or music)


Below is a list of paper topics that mainly focus on env. aesthetics 


           Relevant Information in the Appreciation of Nature

           Difference and similarities between the aesthetic appreciation of nature and art

           Is there a correct way to appreciate nature.

           Serious vs trivial in aesthetic appreciation of nature

           Is aesthetic appreciation of nature (and art?) thoroughly relative and subjective?

           Possibility of inappropriate and appropriate in aesthetic appreciation of environment; Are some aesthetic appreciation of nature is better or worse than others?

           Aesthetic appreciation of deserts or urban environments or agriculture

           Formalism in the aesthetic appreciation of nature

           The role of science in the aesthetic appreciation of nature/environment

           Environmental art: philosophical dimensions; Is env. art an aesthetic affront to nature?

           Is it legitimate to think that an aesthetic response to nature is inappropriate because it gets in the way of protecting nature from human caused degradation?

           Can one properly evaluate and aesthetically respond to an object if one doesn’t know whether it is an artefact or a natural object?

           An evaluation of Carlson’s science based model of aesthetic appreciation of nature

           Is all of nature beautiful? An evaluation of the doctrine of positive aesthetics. Do you think all of nature is equally appreciable?

           Evaluation of the “scenery cult” (the current picturesque approach to nature appreciation)

           Evaluation of the dispute between Emily Brady and Marcia Eaton on the role of imagination in the proper aesthetic appreciation of nature.