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Art, Emotion and Ethics$
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Berys Gaut

Print publication date: 2007

Print ISBN-13: 9780199263219

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: September 2007

DOI: 10.1093/acprof:oso/9780199263219.001.0001

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The Cognitive Argument: The Epistemic Claim

The Cognitive Argument: The Epistemic Claim

Chapter:
(p.133) 7 The Cognitive Argument: The Epistemic Claim
Source:
Art, Emotion and Ethics
Author(s):

Berys Gaut (Contributor Webpage)

Publisher:
Oxford University Press
DOI:10.1093/acprof:oso/9780199263219.003.0007

This chapter and the next develop the cognitive argument for ethicism, based on the doctrine of aesthetic cognitivism. This comprises an epistemic claim that art can convey non-trivial knowledge, and an aesthetic claim that this capacity of art is sometimes an aesthetic merit. One kind of knowledge that art can convey is moral knowledge. The chapter defends the epistemic claim, particularly in the version that artworks can teach us. It is shown that art can teach us by several means, including through guiding our imaginings. Though the chapter criticizes simulation theory, it shows that we can learn through imagination by subjecting it to various kinds of discipline. It then argues that imagination plays an important role in ethical learning, and gives examples of ethical learning through imagination in ordinary life, in philosophical thought experiments, and through the use of William Styron's novel, Sophie's Choice.

Keywords:   aesthetic cognitivism, art and knowledge, epistemic claim, cognitivism, ethical learning, imagination, Sophie's Choice, thought experiments

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