Aesthetics for Birds

Aesthetics and Philosophy of Art for Everyone

Upcoming JAAC X AFB Discussion: Holliday on the Puzzle of Factual Praise



Why do we care about certain facts but not others when we evaluate fiction? Why do some things need to be accurate, but others not? If you’re curious, come back in *one week* when we’ll be looking at “The Puzzle of Factual Praise” by John Holliday available in JAAC’s Spring 2017 volume, 75 (2), online here.

And big thanks to Christopher Bartel for providing the critical précis. John will provide a response to this, and they will both be available to discuss your questions and thoughts in the comments.

Mark it in your calendars, and we look forward to seeing you then!


It seems that we are not willing to give up the intuitions that (1) works of fiction are free from the constraints of historical truth and (2) historical inaccuracies sometimes count against the artistic value of works of fiction. Christopher Bartel calls this the puzzle of historical criticism. I argue that this puzzle extends beyond historical facts. While it is especially salient that historical accuracy at times appears relevant to the evaluation of fictional works, such relevance appears to be a feature of facts in general. I then propose a partial strategy for resolving the puzzle.

About the contributors:

John is currently a Teaching Instructor and Director of Graduate Writing at Rutgers University. His research is engaged with the value of literature, and he is a published fiction writer.

Chris is Associate Professor of Philosophy at Appalachian State University and has published widely in aesthetics on subjects ranging from music to video games to fiction.

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