Thought experiments in aesthetics

Document Type

Book chapter

Source Publication

A Companion to Applied Philosophy


1st ed.

Publication Date


First Page


Last Page



John Wiley & Sons, Ltd


thought experiments, aesthetics, Pierre Menard, Borges, Goodman, Savile, Walton, imagination, artworks


In the burgeoning literature on thought experiments, examples are drawn from almost all areas of philosophy, one exception, however, being aesthetics. There are good reasons why this is so: there are very few interesting theory-oriented thought experiments in aesthetics, which is unsurprising since there are few well-developed theories to test in this field. After evaluating some aesthetic thought experiments in light of some general epistemic questions regarding thought experiments, we argue that theory-centred thought experiments are not the only kinds of thought experiments, and that the practical and productive thought experiments that are prevalent in aesthetics are also worthy of some attention.



Publisher Statement

Copyright © 2017 John Wiley & Sons, Ltd. Access to external full text or publisher's version may require subscription.

Additional Information

ISBN of the source publication: 9781118869130

Full-text Version

Publisher’s Version

Recommended Citation

Livingston, P. & Pettersson, M. (2016). Thought experiments in aesthetics. In K. Lippert-Rasmussen, K. Brownlee & D. Coady (Eds.), A Companion to Applied Philosophy (501-513). doi: 10.1002/9781118869109.ch35