© 2011

Artistic Judgement

A Framework for Philosophical Aesthetics

  • Offers a distinctive account of the importance of distinguishing artistic judgement from mere aesthetic judgement

  • Grounds the discussion in an interesting, innovative framework for explaining meaning and understanding

  • Connects philosophical aesthetics with institutions of art-making and art-appreciating

  • Offers a framework as a research agenda for the future of philosophical aesthetics


Part of the Philosophical Studies Series book series (PSSP, volume 115)

Table of contents

  1. Front Matter
    Pages i-xii
  2. Graham McFee
    Pages 29-56
  3. Graham McFee
    Pages 85-117
  4. Graham McFee
    Pages 119-145
  5. Graham McFee
    Pages 175-180
  6. Back Matter
    Pages 181-195

About this book


Artistic Judgement sketches a framework for an account of art suitable to philosophical aesthetics. It stresses differences between artworks and other things; and locates the understanding of artworks both in a narrative of the history of art and in the institutional practices of the art world. Hence its distinctiveness lies in its strong account of the difference between, on the one hand, the judgement and appreciation of art and, on the other, the judgement and appreciation of all the other things in which we take an aesthetic interest. For only by acknowledging this contrast can one do justice to the importance regularly ascribed to art. The contrast is explained by appealing to an occasion-sensitive account of understanding, drawn from Charles Travis directly, but with Gordon Baker (and Wittgenstein) as also proximate rather than remote. On this basis, it argues, first, that we need to offer accounts of key topics only as far as questions might be raised in respect of them (hence, not exceptionlessly); and, second, that we should therefore defend the view that the meaning of artworks can be changed by later events (the historical character of art, or forward retroactivism) and that art has an institutional character, understood broadly on the lines of Terry Diffey’s Republic of Art. Besides providing a general framework, Artistic Judgement also explores the applications of the ideas to specific artworks or classes of them.


Aesthetics Arts History of art Philosophical aesthetics Philosophy of art

Authors and affiliations

  1. 1.EastbourneUnited Kingdom

About the authors

Graham McFee studied at the University of Keele, and at University College London (where he was supervised by Richard Wollheim). Having worked at the University of Brighton since 1974, he was inaugurated Professor of Philosophy there in 1995. Since 2004, he has divided his time between Brighton and California State University Fullerton. He was Vice President of the British Society for Aesthetics from 1999 to 2004. His main interests, outside aesthetics, lie in the philosophy of Wittgenstein and the philosophical study of sport.

Bibliographic information

  • Book Title Artistic Judgement
  • Book Subtitle A Framework for Philosophical Aesthetics
  • Authors Graham McFee
  • Series Title Philosophical Studies Series
  • DOI
  • Copyright Information Springer Science+Business Media B.V. 2011
  • Publisher Name Springer, Dordrecht
  • eBook Packages Humanities, Social Sciences and Law Philosophy and Religion (R0)
  • Hardcover ISBN 978-94-007-0030-7
  • Softcover ISBN 978-94-007-3500-2
  • eBook ISBN 978-94-007-0031-4
  • Edition Number 1
  • Number of Pages XII, 196
  • Number of Illustrations 0 b/w illustrations, 0 illustrations in colour
  • Topics Aesthetics
  • Buy this book on publisher's site


From the reviews:

“As its title promises, Artistic Judgment: A Framework for Philosophical Aesthetics develops a theoretical account of the nature of philosophical aesthetics, and, within that framework, addresses some important issues in the philosophy of art, all focally related to artistic judgement. … in the present philosophical context, readers who are not sympathetic to Wittgensteinian approaches to aesthetics, as well as those who are, should read this extremely interesting book.” (Thomas Adajian, British Journal of Aesthetics, Vol. 51 (4), October, 2011)