Book of Abstracts

Brandon Cooke: "When Art Can't Lie"
Pre-philosophically, an artwork can lie in virtue of some (perhaps successfully realized) authorial intention that the audience comes to accept as true something that the author believes to be false.  This thought forces a confrontation with the debate about the relation between the interpretation of a work and the intentions of its author.  Anti-intentionalist theories of artwork meaning, which divorce work meaning from the actual author’s intentions, cannot license the judgment that an artwork lies.  But if artwork lying is a genuine possibility, then anti-intentionalism must be rejected as false.

David Davies: "Artistic Crimes and Misdemeanours"
Denis Dutton claimed that, to grasp why it matters to the artistic value of a painting like The Disciples at Emmaus that it was painted by van Meegeren in the first half of the 20th century rather than by Vermeer in the 17th century, we need to locate what van Meegeren did in a wider class of ‘artistic crimes.’ The artistic crimes in question involve ‘misrepresented artistic performances’. The ‘artistic performance’ associated with a given work characterises whatever the person or persons responsible for initiating the relevant art-object or art-event achieved in the process of initiation: problems solved, obstacles overcome, and creative uses made of available materials. ‘Artistic performances’, so understood. bear upon a work’s artistic value, for Dutton, because they are partly constitutive of the works themselves: the art-object or art-event ‘represents’ the artistic performance generative of it and grasping the performance represented by an art-object or art-event is “part of what it is to understand something as a work of art”. Van Meegeren’s ‘artistic crime’ consists in misrepresenting the nature of the artistic performance represented by the canvas of The Disciples at Emmaus, and thereby misrepresenting the work’s artistic value.

Dutton stresses that the class of ‘misrepresented artistic performances’ is by no means restricted to forgeries, and offers, as an example from the performing arts, a musical performance misrepresented as an improvisation - imagine, for example, that Keith Jarrett’s Koln Concert was in fact a performance of something carefully rehearsed in advance. But this raises the question whether ‘misrepresented artistic performances’ are always artistic crimes, a question that becomes more salient when we reflect on the different ways in which those responsible for generating art-objects and art-events may - for diverse reasons - misrepresent the nature of their performances. I survey a range of actual examples and seek a principled way of justifying what seem to be our intuitions - apparent in our artistic practice - as to which such misrepresentations are artistic crimes, and which are mere artistic misdemeanours. 

Julian Dodd: "Peter Kivy’s Personal Authenticity"
Peter Kivy’s Authenticities (Cornell, 1995) is a landmark book about the varieties of authenticity that putatively figure as norms governing our practice of performing works of Western art music. One of its most famous claims is that a significant performance value within this practice is what Kivy calls personal authenticity. According to Kivy’s elaboration of this notion, a performance of a work is personally authentic to the extent that it is “a direct extension of the artist’s own [artistic] personality” (Authenticities: 123).

I applaud Kivy’s recognition that there is a kind of authenticity governing work performance that is distinct from performing works with (historical) accuracy. But as I explain, in thinking of such a performance value as a way in which a performer is true to herself, he develops this insight in the wrong way. In my view, this other kind of authenticity is not a kind of truthfulness to oneself in work performance, but another, typically overlooked, way of being true to the work performed. I hope that my saying this can be viewed as a friendly amendment to a central plank of a body of work that I greatly admire.

Maria Forsberg: "Implicit Attitudes and the Value of Forgeries"
Many people have a stronger desire to own an original painting by a famous artist than to own a forgery by an artist who is not famous even when they cannot tell the paintings apart. The phenomenon causes another well-known phenomenon, which is that the market value of a painting that people take to be an original of the relevant kind is much higher than the market value of a painting that people take to be forgery of the relevant kind (Newman and Bloom 2012).

Why do people have a stronger desire to own the originals than to own the forgeries? There may be several explanations for the phenomenon. Given the current evidence, it is plausible to take one explanation to be that people have implicit attitudes. Levy has recently proposed an explanation in terms of implicit attitudes, according to which the states are patchy endorsements (Levy 2015; Levy 2017). These states are supposed to be different from beliefs and imaginings, and from all other mental states that we are already familiar with.

The aim of this talk is to show that there is an explanation in terms of implicit attitudes that provides a better causal explanation than the patchy endorsement explanation. I draw on the tools provided by interventionism (Woodward and Hitchcock 2003; Woodward 2003) and state a sufficient condition for being a better causal explanation than the patchy endorsement explanation. I then describe another explanation in terms of implicit attitudes and show that it satisfies this condition.

Robert Hopkins: "Showing up in Experience: The Aesthetic Case"
I’ll be discussing two, related questions:

The Question of Doubles: Could there be an aesthetic difference between two objects if no one could tell them apart?
The Question of Origins: Can a work’s aesthetic character (and so aesthetic value) (constitutively) depend on its origin?

Various cases argue for No to both. Various principles, however, argue the other way. One such principle (AE) ties a property’s being aesthetic to its showing up in experience. But what is it to show up in experience? Further principles offer competing answers. The Manifestationist claims a property shows up in experience only if experience supports pairwise discrimination: given any two cases in only one of which the property is present, experience allows us to tell which is which. A view that is the lovechild of Nozick and Goodman makes the weaker demand that discrimination be global: experience can fail to let us tell the property’s presence from that of some contrary, provided there is no third option we cannot discriminate from either. Goodman’s official view is that no form of discrimination is necessary at the time experience occurs: the property shows up in it provided (pairwise) discrimination is supported either now or later. The least demanding view makes no demand for discrimination at all: it’s enough that experience reflects the facts, in ways suitably dependent on them.

I will lay out these various positions and discuss various challenges to each. Ultimately the cases suggest that none go far enough, and that the principle they share, (AE) must be rejected. But all is not lost. Even if not every aesthetic property must show up in experience, the vast majority do, and this fact is central to aesthetic practice and engagement. In asking what it is for a property to show up there, the various positions address a question aesthetics should take very seriously.

PS For those interested in considering in advance the structure of the issues and the densest argumentation I will be offering, I have made available a 3000 word paper that outlines some of the framework, and discusses Goodman’s proposal.

Sherri Irvin: "Authenticity, Misunderstanding and Institutional Responsibility in Contemporary Art"
In this paper, I’ll consider two questions about audience misunderstandings of contemporary art. First, what is the institution’s responsibility to prevent predictable misunderstandings about the nature of a contemporary artwork? Second, can an institution ever be justified in intentionally mounting an inauthentic display of an artwork, given that such displays are likely to mislead? I will suggest that institutions bear considerable responsibility to avoid audience misunderstanding, but this does not imply that only authentic displays are acceptable. The argument will be developed with consideration of artworks by El Anatsui, Lygia Clark, Jamelie Hassan, and Glenn Ligon.

Sarah Jansen: "Mechanisms of Deception: A Case for Plato's Theory of Audience Corruption"
In this paper I interpret Plato's audience psychology and general model of how popular drama corrupts audiences, with a view to accessing its theoretical and empirical plausibility. I consider the latest research in both psychology and philosophy to make the case that Plato's theory (a) stakes out an attractive middle ground in current academic and popular debates about the effects of violent films on audiences and (b) reveals how audiences express genuine moral and normative beliefs in the theater, contrary to popular 'pretense' and 'make believe' theories of audience response.

James Mahon: "Lies in Memoirs"
A work of fiction, it is held, cannot be a lie, or even tell a lie, because it does not contain any assertions. The Bishop of Ferns who said that he didn’t believe half of what he read in Swift’s Gulliver’s Travels was simply being obtuse. By contrast, it is held that a work of history can be, or tell, a lie. The writings of Holocaust denier David Irving are considered to be lies, or to contain lies. According to his critics, Irving is not a historian, he is simply a liar. Memoirs, it would seem, occupy a middle ground. They are not works of fiction, and yet, they are not held to the same standard as works of history. They may contain errors, distortions, and deliberate untruths, and yet they are not considered lies. That is, until recently. Some readers of James Frey’s memoir, A Million Little Pieces, sued him for fraud, after he admitted to inventing parts of it. The book’s publisher gave them a refund, and Frey added a disclaimer to the subsequent editions. The Brooklyn Public Library reclassified it as a work of fiction. And readers of Lance Armstrong’s two volumes of memoirs, It's Not About the Bike and Every Second Counts, also sued him for fraud, after he admitted to illegal doping. Although Armstrong won the legal battle, it seems that memoirs lost the war. The ruling was that his books were lies, although not illegal lies. In this paper, I explore what it means to say that a memoir is, or tells, a lie.

Jessica Pepp: "Lying, Falsely Implicating, and Forging"
This talk explores the prospects for justifying the somewhat widespread, somewhat firmly held conviction that there is some moral advantage to falsely implicating (i.e., implying, without outright asserting, something one believes to be false) over lying. I will set out various ways of sharpening this conviction and survey a range of approaches to justifying them. The upshot of the survey is a cautious pessimism: the view that there is a moral advantage to falsely implicating looks hard to justify, although I will sketch an approach inspired by John Stuart Mill about which I am less pessimistic. I will round out the discussion with some reflections on how the lying/falsely implicating distinction might inform investigations into the distinctive wrong in art forgery.

Emmanuel Viebahn: "Lying and Misleading with Pictures"
Pictures are notably absent from the current philosophical debate about lying and misleading. Theorists in this debate tend to focus on linguistic means of communication and do not take into account the possibility of lying with photographs, drawings or other kinds of pictures. The aim of this talk is to show that such a narrow focus is misguided: there is a strong case to be made for the possibility of both lying and misleading with pictures, and this possibility allows for insights in the debates on how to define lying and on potential moral differences between lying and misleading.