Iris Vidmar Jovanović ’s (2021) ‘Applied Ethical Criticism of Narrative Art’ has a goal the significance of which can hardly be overestimated, the development of an analytic aesthetic framework for a publicly relevant ethical criticism. She employs public relevance to delineate a critique that is confined to neither the value interaction debate (VID) nor the debate about aesthetic cognitivism (AC), both of which are unique to analytic aesthetics and have little impact beyond the discipline of philosophy, let alone beyond academia. In drawing attention to the relationship between applied ethical criticism on the one hand and the VID and AC on the other, Vidmar Jovanović levels a scathing indictment against the majority of philosophers of art, who are for the most part disinterested in the social and political implications of their theoretical research. In this brief reply, I begin by setting out the practical limitations of analytic aesthetics, endorsing and extending her critique. I then discuss Vidmar Jovanović ’s criticism of my own contribution to AC (McGregor 2018). I conclude with her proposed framework, which makes an insightful and urgent appeal for an analytic aesthetics rooted in both interdisciplinary and phenomenological research.
My aim in this paper is to provide clarification of my view on ethical criticism of narrative art in order to respond to some of the concerns issued at it by Rafe McGregor. While McGregor and I share numerous assumptions regarding the cognitive and ethical value of art, we disagree with respect to certain practical concerns. To address his challenge, I argue for the necessity of joining philosophical research with research in other domains, primarily in cognitive sciences, in order to determine the extent to which engagements with art can have positive or negative cognitive and moral impact on the spectators. I am particularly concerned with showing that philosophy needs support from other disciplines in order to ground its claims in scientifically supported theories and to avoid self-generating theoretical disagreements that are populating its debates. However, I also offer an array of reasons for the inclusion of philosophy into other disciplines, and I urge for the recognition of philosophy’s potential to respond to publically relevant issues.