Aesthetic and moral judgments: analogies and differences, real and apparent

Alan H. Goldman


This paper compares aesthetic to moral judgments in regard to the properties they ascribe, their supposed support by appeal to principles, their phenomenology, the nature of arguments supporting them, and their truth. It finds a similarity in the structure of properties ascribed, an absence of usable principles in both domains, and a similar phenomenology that supports realism in neither. Arguments in both domains begin by checking that the judges are competent, although competence in moral judges differs from that of aesthetic critics. The most important difference emerges in later stages of supportive arguments, where there is a requirement of coherence in moral judgments that does not apply to their aesthetic counterparts. This leads to a different characterization of truth in the two domains.


Aesthetic judgment; moral judgment; evaluative arguments

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