Deference, Aesthetic Worth, and the Virtue of Creativity
One popular solution to the puzzle of deference in testimony on normative matters holds that what is lacking in the acquisition of knowledge solely via testimony is that the person acquiring the knowledge lacks understanding. Alison Hills, for example, argues this in relation to moral testimony, and the same would apply in aesthetic testimony. On her view, as well, any action that proceeds on the basis of such testimony lacks moral (aesthetic) worth, and the person who defers lacks virtue. Those who advocate the "understanding" approach believe that there is something intrinsically bad about deference, and also believe that it reveals something bad about a person's character. In this paper, I criticize the understanding approach, and hold that it is particularly difficult to maintain this approach in the normative realm of aesthetics. Given a strong analogy between morality and aesthetics, this then gives us reason to doubt that the approach works in the case of moral testimony as well. The example of aesthetic virtue I discuss is creativity, though my approach would hold for other aesthetic virtues as well.
Julia Driver is Professor of Philosophy at Washington University in St Louis.