University of Nottingham
University of Leeds



Royal Institute of Philosophy Conference and Public Event



Conference Programme

Public Event




Philosophical Aesthetics and the Sciences of Art?

28th to the 30th of June 2012

Leeds Art Gallery, the Headrow, Leeds

An international conference in association with the University of Leeds, the University of Nottingham and the Royal Institute of Philosophy.

The conference will involve speakers with a variety of perspectives, ranging from those with a good deal of enthusiasm for “empirical philosophy” to those more inclined to favour traditional, a priori approaches.


Confirmed Speakers Include:

  • Whitney Davis (UC Berkeley)
  • Stacie Friend (Heythrop)
  • Berys Gaut (St Andrews)
  • Jonathan Gilmore (Yale)
  • Gordon Graham (Princeton Theological Seminary)
  • Matthew Kieran (Leeds)
  • Sam Liao (Kansas State University)
  • Aaron Meskin (Leeds)
  • Jenefer Robinson (Cincinnati)
  • Roger Scruton (Oxford, St Andrews, and American Enterprise Institute)
  • Deena Skolnick Weisberg (Temple)
  • Murray Smith (Kent)

Philosophers are now used to paying close attention to the results of theoretical and experimental work in the sciences. This has been long-standing practice in the philosophy of the sciences, and it is now common in the philosophy of mind. The practice is growing in the philosophy of language and in ethics, where there is controversy over the authority of linguistic and moral intuitions. The practice is less common in aesthetics, but it is beginning to develop, most notably in appeals to theories of vision in disputes about pictorial perception, and reference to empirical work on the emotions and imagination in the discussion of our engagement with fiction. Such interventions are controversial in some quarters; more controversial still are claims that work in the neurosciences and in evolutionary psychology can deepen, perhaps even revolutionise, our philosophical conceptions of the arts. Some argue that such studies will not make any positive contribution to understanding the nature and value of artistic experiences whilst others hold that philosophical accounts in aesthetics should be informed by the empirical sciences.

Topics to be addressed include whether or how

  • empirical and/or naturalistic approaches shed light on the value(s) of art (a subject that may seem especially difficult to get empirical traction on);
  • empirical/psychological accounts of creativity shed light on the profound significance of artistic creativity;
  • naturalistic approaches to naturalistic approaches to the imagination address issues raised by the paradox of fiction;
  • empirical approaches should inform philosophical accounts of beauty or, rather, confuse the beautiful with the merely agreeable.
  • For enquiries please e mail (


    Registration is now open


    Attendance fee: 25 for staff / 10 for postgraduates


    To register please e mail


    A number of postgraduate bursaries are available thanks to the generous support of the Analysis trust.


    Public Event: Science, Art and the Sacred

    6-7.30PM 27th June 2012

    Leeds Art Gallery, the Headrow, Leeds

    In collaboration with the Leeds Art Gallery, the AHRC funded project “Method in Philosophical Aesthetics: the challenge from the sciences” will be hosting a major public event on the relationship between science, art and religion on the evening of the 27th of June 2012 from 6PM.

    This evening event will take place in the Gallery and will consist in a dialogue with three internationally renowned philosophers of art: Gregory Currie of the University of Nottingham, Gordon Graham of the Princeton Theological Seminary and Roger Scruton of the University of Oxford, University of St Andrews, and the American Enterprise Institute. The event will be moderated by Matthew Kieran, Professor of Philosophy and the Arts at the University of Leeds.  

    There is no charge to attend this event, registrartion in advance by e mailing is encouraged but not required.