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Kant on Recognizing Beauty

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Abstract: Kant declares the judgment of beauty to be neither ‘objective’ nor ‘merely subjective’. This essay takes up the question of what this might mean and whether it can be taken seriously. It is often supposed that Kant's denials of ‘objectivity’ to the judgment of beauty express a rejection of realism about beauty. I suggest that Kant's thought is not to be understood in these terms—that it does not properly belong in the arena of debates about the constituents of ‘reality’—motivating the suggestion by first considering a pair of opposing views on the question of whether Kant can be understood to develop a real alternative to realism about beauty at all.

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