The aesthetic peculiarity of multifunctional artefacts
British Journal of Aesthetics
Echoing a distinction made by David Wiggins in his discussion of the relation of identity, this paper investigates whether aesthetic adjectives such as 'beautiful' are sortal-relative or merely sortal-dependent. The hypothesis guiding the paper is that aesthetic adjectives, though probably sortal-dependent in general, are sortal-relative only when used to characterize multifunctional artefacts. This means that multifunctional artefacts should be unique in allowing the following situation to occur: for some object x there are sortals K and K' such that x is a beautiful K and also a K', but not a beautiful K'. Examples of multifunctional artefacts show that this is indeed a possibility. However, that multifunctional artefacts are unique in this respect will be demonstrated by a more principled argument, taking into account the nature of functions on the one hand, and the nature of artefact-classification on the other hand.
Copyright © British Society of Aesthetics 2005
Access to external full text or publisher's version may require subscription.
De Clercq, R. (2005). The aesthetic peculiarity of multifunctional artefacts. British Journal of Aesthetics, 45(4), 412-425. doi: 10.1093/aesthj/ayi051