Unmasking the Truth Beneath the Beauty: Why the Supposed Aesthetic Judgements Made in Science May Not Be Aesthetic at All

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Abstract:

In this article I examine the status of putative aesthetic judgements in science and mathematics. I argue that if the judgements at issue are taken to be genuinely aesthetic they can be divided into two types, positing either a disjunction or connection between aesthetic and epistemic criteria in theory/proof assessment. I show that both types of claim face serious difficulties in explaining the purported role of aesthetic judgements in these areas. I claim that the best current explanation of this role, McAllister's 'aesthetic induction' model, fails to demonstrate that the judgements at issue are genuinely aesthetic. I argue that, in light of these considerations, there are strong reasons for suspecting that many, and perhaps all, of the supposedly aesthetic claims are not genuinely aesthetic but are in fact 'masked' epistemic assessments.

Document Type: Research Article

DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.1080/02698590802280910

Publication date: March 1, 2008

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