On the Moral Psychology and Normative Force of Aesthetic Reasons
This paper investigates the way in which we adduce reasons in support of our aesthetic judgements. We examine the seemingly question-begging nature of that process, such that any aesthetic quality we adduce as a reason can be found compelling qua reason for a particular judgement if and only if that judgement is already assented to. We then analyse this phenomenon in the parallel contexts of gustatory taste and friendship, where the differences are understood to lie primarily with differences in the normative force of reasons held in support of gustatory judgements, aesthetic judgements, and personal friendships. While some question-begging obtains in all cases, in the latter we can begin to see that friendship can be justified with reference to its contribution to the good of ourselves. This is explored further in connection with the way in which examining our reasons for being friends with people is actually productive and generative of that friendship. Our conclusion is that while the giving of reasons for aesthetic judgements is still subject to a certain question-begging, those judgements acquire a powerful normative force in cultural contexts where it can be seen that assenting to them constitutes the realization of our good as individuals.