Philosophy, Psychology and Neuroscience
Normativity and Generality in Ethics and Aesthetics
Moral properties such as being wrong or being obligatory are not brute but based on other kinds of properties, such as being a lie or being promised. Aesthetic properties such as being graceful or being beautiful are similar to moral properties in being based on other kinds of properties, but in the aesthetic cases it may be impossible to specify just what these grounding properties are. Does any single property ground poetic beauty in the way promising grounds obligation to do the promised deed? If aesthetic properties do differ from moral properties in this way, may we conclude that, although ethics is like aesthetics in being a realm of intuitive and perceptual knowledge—or at least intuitive and perceptual sensitivity—it is unlike aesthetics because the latter lacks principles that connect grounding properties with aesthetic properties? Are there any such generalities in aesthetics, or even aesthetic generalities connecting aesthetic properties with other aesthetic properties? If there are, how much like or unlike rules and principles in ethics are they? This paper explores all these questions in the light of examples from the arts, with poetry as the main case study.