University of Nottingham
University of Leeds



Pietà (Michelangelo)

Research papers


This page provides research papers by the project researchers. Some of the papers are available for download. Simply, click on the paper title to download the document. Choose from the options below:

Papers for 2011 workshop

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Papers for 2010 workshop

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Papers by project researchers

Background papers

Meskin, A., Weinberg, J., (2006). Puzzling Over the Imagination: Philosophical Problems, Architectural Solutions. In The Architecture of the Imagination: New Essays on Pretense, Possibility, and Fiction. Shaun Nichols (ed.), Oxford: Oxford University Press, pp. 175-202.

  • This chapter addresses three distinct philosophical issues concerning the imagination: the puzzle of emotions and fiction, imaginative resistance, and the distinction between imagination and supposition. Standard approaches to these issues, which restrict themselves to the resources of folk psychology and metaphysics, are shown to be inadequate. Instead, an alternative approach rooted in careful exploration of the cognitive architecture of the imagination is developed.

    This approach transforms the aforementioned puzzles about the imagination into explananda apt for a scientifically-informed explanation. The result is an account of the imagination which, in addition to explaining these three key imaginative phenomena, shows promise for solving other related issues such as the epistemic value of modal intuitions. Moreover, it is a vindication of a certain kind of naturalistic approach to philosophy, not just in the philosophy of mind but also in aesthetics and epistemology.

Meskin, A., Weinberg, J., (2003). Emotions, Fiction, and Cognitive Architecture. British Journal of Aesthetics, 43, 18-34.

  • Recent theorists suggest that our capacity to respond affectively to fictions depends on our ability to engage in simulation: either simulating a character in the fiction, or simulating someone reading or watching the fiction as though it were fact. We argue that such accounts are quite successful at accounting for many of the basic explananda of our affective engagements in fiction. Nonetheless, we argue further that simulationist accounts ultimately fail, for simulation involves an ineliminably ego-centred element that is atypical of our experience of fiction. We then draw on recent work in philosophical psychology to articulate a more psychologically plausible account of our emotional engagement  with fiction.

Kieran, M., (2010). The Vice of Snobbery: Aesthetic Knowledge, Justification and Virtue in Art Appreciation. Philosophical Quarterly. 60 (239): 243 - 263.

  • This paper gives an account of why snobbery is pervasive in the aesthetic realm, in light of empirical and conceptual considerations, in ways which make it very difficult to tell whether we or other people are judging snobbishly. If these two claims are combined a fundamental problem arises. We do not know whether or not we are justified in believing or making aesthetic claims. Addressing this new challenge requires us to give an epistemological story that underpins when, where and why snobbish judgement is problematic and how appreciative claims can survive. It is argued that doing so leads us toward a virtue theoretic account of art appreciation and aesthetic justification as contrasted with a purely reliabilist one (thereby indicating a new direction for contemporary aesthetics).

Kieran, M., (Forthcoming). The Fragility of Aesthetic Knowledge: Aesthetic Psychology and Appreciative Virtues. In: P. Goldie and E. Schellekens (eds.), Philosophical Aesthetics and Aesthetic Psychology. Oxford: OUP.

  • This paper is a companion piece to the snobbery article developing the nature of the challenge from empirical work to traditional aesthetic epistemology and further elaborating the ways in which character and particular appreciative virtues must be placed centre stage in order to meet the challenge.


Current work

Currie, G., (Forthcoming in 2010). The Master of the Masek Beds. Pre-publication version of a paper forthcoming in P. Goldie and E. Schellekens (ed) Aesthetics and Psychology, Oxford University Press.

  • This paper considers the pre-history of human aesthetic activity, arguing that an evolutionary approach to these activities is consistent with, and indeed supports, the belief that agents at this time had genuinely aesthetic reasons for making these artefacts.

Currie, G., Empathy for objects. Pre-publication version of a paper forthcoming in P. Goldie and A. Coplan (ed) Empathy: Philosophical and Psychological Essays, Oxford University Press.

  • This paper considers a once influential movement which argued the now strange-sounding idea that aesthetic experience involves a sense of empathic contact with inanimate objects. I consider how this movement’s ideas cohere with recent work on the neuropsychology of art, suggesting that unconscious and sub-personal processes play part in determining the nature of our aesthetic experience. Such processes belong the realm of aesthetic explanation but not to the realm of aesthetic reasons.

Meskin, A., Plato, L.. (forcthcoming) Aesthetic Value. In Encylopedia of Quality of Life Research (Springer 2013)

Meskin, A., Weinberg, J., (Forthcoming in 2010). Imagination Unblocked. In Philosophical Aesthetics and Aesthetic Psychology, Elisabeth Schellekens and Peter Goldie (eds), Oxford: Oxford University Press.

Meskin, A., (2009). The Explanation of Aesthetic Phenomena: Comments on Nanay and Kraut. Paper presented at American Philosophical Association Eastern Division Meeting, New York, December 2009.

Kieran, M. Experimental Aesthetics.

  • Slides from a powerpoint presentation on the nature of challenges from experimental psychology and an elaboration of philosophical ways forward in meeting such.


Past workshop papers – Leeds Workshop on Experimental Aesthetics, Monday 9 November 2009

Currie, G., (Forthcoming in 2010). Tragedy. Pre-publication version of a paper forthcoming in Analysis, October 2010.

Meskin, A. (2009). Aesthetic Adjectives and Context. Workshop presentation.