Menu Expand

The Metaethical Turn: Beyond ›Good‹ and ›Evil‹

Shusterman, Ronald

Zeitschrift für Ästhetik und Allgemeine Kunstwissenschaft, Bd. 67 (2022), Iss. 2: S. 66–75

Zusätzliche Informationen

Bibliografische Daten

Shusterman, Ronald


Does art have to be moral? The first point that might be made is that this question is not necessarily a question ›in‹ aesthetics. Indeed, the philosophy of art should be considered as research into the concepts, implications, scope, and workings of artistic practise and reception. In that sense, the moral evaluation of art would be no different from the moral evaluation of any other human activity. All of the questions raised by the focus of this issue would thus remain essential, but would be beyond the scope of aesthetic theory. There is, however, a more fundamental point to be made. Contemporary philosophers give us very probing taxonomies of the various positions possible with respect to any ethical approach to art. But whether one opts for ›Autonomism‹, ›Moralism‹, or ›Immoralism‹, one could be drawn to acknowledge the operation of what I call the metaethical effect of art. This metaethical effect is not to be seen as the formulation of a specific message, moral, or value, but as the kindling and refinement of an awareness of the notion of value itself, and of the nature of evaluation, interpretation, and shared judgment. The argument would thus be that all works, be they moral, immoral, amoral, be they concrete and narrational or purely non-figurative and non-referential, provoke a reaction that teaches us the form of shared judgment.