De Gustibus: Arguing About Taste and Why We Do it

ISBN : 9780198746782

Peter Kivy
192 ページ
149 x 222 mm

In De Gustibus Peter Kivy deals with a question that has never been fully addressed by philosophers of art: why do we argue about art? We argue about the 'facts' of the world either to influence people's behaviour or simply to get them to see what we take to be the truth about the world. We argue over ethical matters, if we are ethical 'realists,' because we think we are arguing about 'facts' in the world. And we argue about ethics, if we are 'emotivists,' or are now what are called 'expressionists,' which is to say, people who think matters of ethics are simply matters of 'attitude,' to influence the behaviour of others. But why should we argue about works of art? There are no 'actions' we wish to motivate. Whether I think Bach is greater than Beethoven and you think the opposite, why should it matter to either of us to convince the other? This is a question that philosophers have never faced. Kivy claims here that we argue over taste because we think, mistakenly or not, that we are arguing over matters of fact.


1. Hume's Dilemma
2. A Ground Common to All
3. The Beautiful Versus the Good
4. Simple Emotivism
5. Do So As Well!
6. The Aesthetic Shrug
7. Immoral Art
8. Is Bad Taste Immoral?
9. Push-Pin and Poetry
10. Back to Square One
11. The Right Phenomenology?
12. The Truth of Interpretation
13. The Truth of Analysis
14. The Truth of Evaluation
15. Common Sense and the Error Theory


Peter Kivy was born in New York City on 22 October, 1934. He was educated at the Walden School, as well as with private tutors in oboe and music theory. He received his BA with high honors in philosophy at the University of Michigan, in 1956, and an MA in philosophy from that University in 1958. He then went on to receive an MA in music history from Yale University in 1960, and a PhD from Columbia University in 1966. He has taught in the Philosophy Department of Rutgers University since 1967, and is presently Board of Governors Professor of Philosophy. Professor Kivy has published numerous books and articles, both historical and analytic, in aesthetics and philosophy of art, and is a past President of the American Society for Aesthetics.