Title

Urmson's Art

Document Type

Thesis

Degree

Master of Arts

Major

Philosophy

Date of Defense

4-11-2016

Graduate Advisor

Stephanie A. Ross

Committee

Eric Wiland

Jill Delston

Abstract

The most fundamental problem in the philosophy of art is finding an adequate definition for the term ‘art’. One common criterion is that a definition of art should be able to accommodate future, avant-garde works, as well as acknowledge the many accepted works from the past, which in all likelihood these newer additions do not resemble. Some philosophers also believe that a definition of art should align reasonably well with our intuitions about what counts as art. I would agree, except my intuitions about what counts as art are apparently off from what most other people think qualifies as art. At least today, many people take a relatively liberal approach, opening their arms to many instances of all kinds of works. I tend to conceive of art more narrowly. I am much more skeptical of the idea that things like movies, architecture, and music often count as art. I would claim that many instances of these kinds of works, among others, should not and most likely do not qualify as art. I believe that the definition of art described by J.O. Urmson might be used to winnow what I perceive to be today’s overcrowded field of art. Under the definition provided by Urmson, for a work to qualify as art, it must be primarily intended for aesthetic consideration. I argue that many works of film, architecture, and music, among others, are not primarily intended for aesthetic consideration, and thus do not qualify as art.

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