The Merited Response Argument and Artistic Categories



The merited response argument is an argument in favor of artistic ethicism. According to this view, the interaction between art and morality is such that a moral defect in a work of art negatively influences the work's artistic value (and a moral merit, when relevant, is always an artistic merit). I contend that the argument relies on a criterion of aesthetic and artistic relevance that, when properly understood, fails to constitute a premise that either the artistic contextualist or the autonomist would accept. I then offer a version of the merited response argument that supports artistic contextualism and argue that, given certain controversial assumptions, immoral art in the Western tradition is more common than typically acknowledged in the recent literature on the topic.