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Philosophical Perspectives on Art$
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Stephen Davies

Print publication date: 2007

Print ISBN-13: 9780199202423

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: May 2010

DOI: 10.1093/acprof:oso/9780199202423.001.0001

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Authors' Intentions, Literary Interpretation, and Literary Value

Authors' Intentions, Literary Interpretation, and Literary Value

(p.166) 11 Authors' Intentions, Literary Interpretation, and Literary Value
Philosophical Perspectives on Art

Stephen Davies (Contributor Webpage)

Oxford University Press

This chapter considers three prominent theories of literary interpretation: actual intentionalism (author's intentions constrain how their works are to be interpreted), hypothetical intentionalism (interpretations are justified as those most likely intended by a postulated author), and the value maximizing theory (interpretations presenting the work in the most favourable light are to be preferred). Either intentionalism cannot account for the appropriateness or legitimacy of some interpretations, or it must be weakened to the point that the considerations raised by hypothetical intentionalists and value-maxmizers come into play. Hypothetical intentionalism either reduces to the value-maximizing theory — which provides a more accurate and clearer expression of the position than does hypothetical intentionalism — or it mistakenly attributes to hypothesized intentions the kind of force that attaches only to actual intentions.

Keywords:   literary interpretation, value maximizing, hypothetical intentionalism, actual intentionalism

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