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Epistemic engagement, aesthetic value and scientific practice

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I provide an account of the relationship between aesthetic sensibility and knowledge, with a focus on scientific practice. Cognitivist accounts, such as that recently defended by Derek Turner, problematically conflate ‘partial sensitivity’ – the idea that aesthetic appreciation partly depends on doxastic states – and factivity, the idea that those beliefs need to be true. Rejecting factivity, I develop a notion of ‘epistemic engagement’: partaking genuinely in a knowledge-directed process of coming to epistemic judgements, and suggest that this better accommodates the relationship between the aesthetic and the epistemic. Scientific training (and other epistemic-directed activities), I argue, involve ‘attunement’: the co-option of aesthetic judgements towards epistemic ends. This view has consequences for the justification of aesthetic judgment in science, namely, the locus of justification are those processes of attunement, not the aesthetic judgements themselves.

This talk is part of the CamPoS (Cambridge Philosophy of Science) seminar series.

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