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Realism and Representation: The Case of Rembrandt's Hat



Some artistic representations—the painting of a hat in a famous picture by Rembrandt is an example—are able to present vividly the character of what they represent precisely by calling attention to their medium of representation. There is a puzzle about this whose structure, I argue, is analogous to that of a familiar Kantian problem for traditional realism. I offer a precise characterization of the puzzle, before arguing that an analogue for the case of representation to the Kantian solution to the problem for traditional realism is implausible. I offer an alternative solution to the puzzle about representation which also explains why we should be interested in artistic representation in the first place. I close with the outline of a possible realist response to the traditional Kantian problem.