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Vid Simoniti

Beauty and power: response-dependence in aesthetic properties



"Is beauty a property of an object or merely in the eye of the beholder? In ontology of aesthetic properties, subjectivist non-realism has been the dominant view. Against this trend, I advance a novel realist position, which conceives of aesthetic properties as powers; I draw on recent dispositionalist accounts of powers to flesh out my claim. I show how such realism about aesthetic powers solves two puzzles in aesthetics, and I explain how the case of aesthetic properties is different from the case of colours. Though the resulting position might seem counter-intuitive, I claim it in fact captures the contemporary art critical Zeitgeist, which is more concerned with powers objects have over potential spectators, and less with the beholder herself.