Aesthetics for Birds

Aesthetics and Philosophy of Art for Everyone

October 22, 2019
by Aesthetics for Birds
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Five Philosophers Discuss “Joker” [spoilers]

This month saw the US release of the newest installment in the DC Comics film franchise, Joker. The film has been the subject of heated debate, with some having enormously positive responses, and others having enormously negative ones. Some see it as just a well-done villain origin story. Others see it as bringing more light to mental health and social support systems. And yet others see it as humanizing and even valorizing white male violence and the mass killings that have become too common in the contemporary US landscape. We thought we would gather up some philosophers working on ethics and the philosophy of art to give their takes on the movie. Below, you’ll see what they have to say about how Joker treats villainy and evil, race, and moral responsibility, as well as what we should learn from all of the debate and disagreement that surrounds it.

August 21, 2019
by Aesthetics for Birds
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Playing Games with History: Philosophers on the Ethics of Historical Board Games

In a recent New York Times article, journalist Kevin Draper brings us up to date on some recent controversies in the world of historical board games. The article centers on the cancellation of Scramble for Africa, a historical board game which was to let players take the role of European powers exploring and exploiting Africa, trying to get the most resources. Joe Chacon, the designer of Scramble for Africa, was accused of not treating this situation with appropriate seriousness. In his game, the savagery that was part and parcel of that exploration seems to be dealt with in minor and trivializing ways. The players must put down rebellions, and can slow their opponents by inciting native revolts. Random events include “penalties for atrocities” and rewards for ending slavery. Butchery is gameified. The article raises a number of fascinating questions. What are the ethics of gaming history? Can we ever gameify our troubled past, and … Continue reading

February 27, 2019
by Aesthetics for Birds
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Wapo Pop Music Critic Responds to Philosophers

Last year, we did a series of five Artworld Roundtables in collaboration with Chris Richards, the pop music critic for the Washington Post. Richards posed the “five hardest questions in pop music”: “cultural appropriation, problematic lyricism, selling out, the ethics of posthumous listening, and … separating the art from the artist.” In response, we rounded up several thinkers working in these areas to see what they had to say about each question. Richards provided us with key examples to draw out the problems and complexities of each debate. The results are here: cultural appropriation, how to respect the wishes of dead artists, whether selling out is still possible, how to engage with objectionable lyrics, and separating the art from the artist who created it. And now Richards is back. Read on to see what he took away from it all. What follows is a guest post by Chris Richards. You can find him at the Washington Post … Continue reading

December 6, 2018
by Aesthetics for Birds
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Can We Separate the Art from the Artist?

The following is an updated version of a post that appeared originally on the philosophy website Daily Nous as part of their “Philosophers On” series. Thanks to Justin Weinberg for permission to repost it with updates here. This edition of Artworld Roundtable appears in collaboration with Chris Richards, the pop music critic for the Washington Post. Over the last several weeks, we have presented a series of roundtable discussions based on Richards’ “five hardest questions in pop music”: “cultural appropriation, problematic lyricism, selling out, the ethics of posthumous listening, and … separating the art from the artist.” AFB has rounded up several thinkers working in these areas to see what they have to say about each question. Richards has provided AFB with key examples to draw out the problems and complexities of each debate. First was cultural appropriation. Second was how to respect the wishes of dead artists. Third was whether selling out … Continue reading

October 10, 2018
by Aesthetics for Birds
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Artworld Roundtable: Objectionable Lyrics

This edition of Artworld Roundtable appears in collaboration with Chris Richards, the pop music critic for the Washington Post. Over the next several weeks, we’ll present a series of roundtable discussions based on Richards’ “five hardest questions in pop music”: “cultural appropriation, problematic lyricism, selling out, the ethics of posthumous listening, and … separating the art from the artist.” AFB has rounded up several thinkers working in these areas to see what they have to say about each question. Richards has provided AFB with key examples to draw out the problems and complexities of each debate. First was cultural appropriation. Second was how to respect the wishes of dead artists. Third was whether selling out is still possible. Today we ask how we should engage objectionable lyrics. The lyrics to some of our favorite songs are, upon moral reflection, completely horrific. Do those lyrics affect whether we should endorse the music or … Continue reading

September 13, 2018
by Aesthetics for Birds
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Artworld Roundtable: Can Today’s Artists Still Sell out?

This edition of Artworld Roundtable appears in collaboration with Chris Richards, the pop music critic for the Washington Post. Over the next several weeks, we’ll present a series of roundtable discussions based on Richards’ “five hardest questions in pop music”: “cultural appropriation, problematic lyricism, selling out, the ethics of posthumous listening, and … separating the art from the artist.” AFB has rounded up several thinkers working in these areas to see what they have to say about each question. Richards has provided AFB with key examples to draw out the problems and complexities of each debate. First was cultural appropriation. Second was how to respect the wishes of dead artists. Today we ask whether it’s still possible for musicians to sell out. What does it mean to sell out? In today’s commercialized, social media, sponsorship-driven world, can musicians still sell out in any meaningful way? Or, in an era where people are … Continue reading

September 4, 2018
by Aesthetics for Birds
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Artworld Roundtable: How Should We Respond to the Wishes Of Dead Artists?

This edition of Artworld Roundtable appears in collaboration with Chris Richards, the pop music critic for the Washington Post. Over the next several weeks, we’ll present a series of roundtable discussions based on Richards’ “five hardest questions in pop music”: “cultural appropriation, problematic lyricism, selling out, the ethics of posthumous listening, and … separating the art from the artist.” AFB has rounded up several thinkers working in these areas to see what they have to say about each question. Richards has provided AFB with key examples to draw out the problems and complexities of each debate. First was cultural appropriation. Up today is how to respect the wishes of dead artists. If an artist opposes, say, her music being available on Spotify, should record companies respect her wishes after her death? If they don’t, what become our responsibilities as consumers? How should we respect the wishes of dead artists? Should we do … Continue reading

August 22, 2018
by Aesthetics for Birds
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Artworld Roundtable: Is Cultural Appropriation Ever Okay?

This edition of Artworld Roundtable appears in collaboration with Chris Richards, the pop music critic for the Washington Post. Over the next several weeks, we’ll present a series of roundtable discussions based on Richards’ “five hardest questions in pop music”: “cultural appropriation, problematic lyricism, selling out, the ethics of posthumous listening, and … separating the art from the artist.” AFB has rounded up several thinkers working in these areas to see what they have to say about each question. Richards has provided AFB with key examples to draw out the problems and complexities of each debate. Up first is cultural appropriation. Nicki Minaj and Chun Li. Eminem and Iggy Azalea. What counts as cultural appropriation in music, and when is it bad? And is there such a thing as acceptable appropriation? Cultural appropriation is the crux of the first of “the five hardest questions in pop music”, as described recently in the … Continue reading

June 19, 2018
by Aesthetics for Birds
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Reviewed: Ten Famous Aestheticians Interviewed in Oup Volume

This post appears as part of a collaboration between Oxford University Press and AFB. This edition of the Artworld Roundtable will focus on Conversations on Art and Aesthetics. The book contains interviews with ten prominent philosophers of art. The interviews are conducted by philosopher Hans Maes, who is Senior Lecturer in History and Philosophy of Art, and Director of the Aesthetics Research Centre at the University of Kent at Canterbury. Accompanying these interviews are portraits by photographer Steve Pyke. From the book’s website, where you can also read excerpts and view the portraits: In Conversations on Art and Aesthetics, Hans Maes discusses … key questions in aesthetics with ten world-leading philosophers of art. The exchanges are direct, open, and sharp, and give a clear account of these thinkers’ core ideas and intellectual development. They also offer new insights into, and a deeper understanding of, contemporary issues in the philosophy of art. The … Continue reading