Agora Speaker Series 2022 - Professor John Haldane

From Scientific Methodology to Philosophical Aesthetics
(a long journey from Pittsburgh to the Gallery of New South Wales, taking in Kaliningrad, Edinburgh and Paris)

In this talk I begin with an identification of the central questions for philosophical aesthetics and then turn towards reflections on the criteria for choosing between scientific theories, drawing on the work of the German-American philosopher Nicholas Rescher. From this I will pass to consider the relation between these criteria and attempts to resolve the issue of the nature and status of aesthetic judgements. Along the way I will identify and illustrate (by reference to music, visual arts, and poetry) the phenomenon of ‘aesthetic thought’. All of this will provide a basis for considering rival theories: subjectivism, functionalism, realism, and moderate objectivism, then tilting in the direction of a kind, of kindly pragmatist idealism.