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Truth and objectivity in aesthetics and ethics

Chalton, Nicola J; (1995) Truth and objectivity in aesthetics and ethics. Masters thesis (M.Phil), UCL (University College London). Green open access

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The central aim of the thesis is to assess whether secondary quality accounts of values explain and thereby justify the objective character of aesthetic and ethical discourse. A second concern is to clarify the notion of truth presupposed in these discourses. A further concern is whether the apparently strong objective presuppositions are mistaken or misleading. The assessment involves a consideration of two accounts, one aesthetic and one ethical. Each appeals to a secondary quality model to explain the idea of values understood as detectable properties in the world as represented. F.N. Sibley's account of aesthetic discourse is specially well worked out, and, for this reason, forms the primary basis for discussion. A relevant abstract from John McDowell's account provides an ethical counterpart, and helps to identify relevant differences between aesthetic and ethical discourse. The assessment is made in the context of a framework consisting of three notions of correctness and error. The framework is compared with some of Crispin Wright's notions in his work on truth and objectivity. The main results are, firstly, that a precise analogy between value and colour (understood as a secondary quality) faces difficulties due to essential differences between the character of colour and the phenomena to be explained by the analogy (particularly ethical phenomena). And secondly, that the notion of correctness (truth) explained by the secondary quality model does not adequately account for the notion of correctness presupposed in value discourse. The argument here is that the secondary quality model does not explain a non-relative notion of correctness. But the notion of correctness presupposed in value discourse is non-relative. Therefore, the secondary quality model fails to adequately explain aesthetic and ethical truth. The central conclusion is thus that secondary quality accounts of values fail to explain truth in ordinary value discourse, and therefore fail to justify this aspect of the objective character of value discourse.

Type: Thesis (Masters)
Qualification: M.Phil
Title: Truth and objectivity in aesthetics and ethics
Open access status: An open access version is available from UCL Discovery
Language: English
Additional information: Thesis digitised by ProQuest.
Keywords: Philosophy, religion and theology
URI: https://discovery.ucl.ac.uk/id/eprint/10099986
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