Why It's OK to Enjoy the Work of Immoral Artists  book cover
1st Edition

Why It's OK to Enjoy the Work of Immoral Artists

  • Available for pre-order. Item will ship after March 2, 2021
ISBN 9780367898649
March 2, 2021 Forthcoming by Routledge
152 Pages

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Book Description

The #metoo movement has forced many fans to consider what they should do when they learn that a beloved artist has acted immorally. One natural thought is that fans ought to give up the artworks of immoral artists. In Why It’s OK to Enjoy the Work of Immoral Artists, Mary Beth Willard argues for a more nuanced view. Enjoying art is part of a well-lived life, so we need good reasons to give it up.

And it turns out good reasons are hard to find. Willard show that it’s reasonable to believe that most boycotts of artists won’t succeed, so most of the time there’s no ethical reason to join in. Someone who manages to separate the art from the artist isn’t making an ethical mistake by buying and enjoying their art. She then considers the ethical dimensions of canceling artists and so-called "cancel culture," arguing that canceling is ethically risky because it encourages moral grandstanding. Willard concludes by arguing that the popular debate has overlooked the power of art to change our lives for the good.

It’s of course OK to decide to give up the artwork of immoral artists, but—as Willard shows in this provocative little volume—it’s OK to continue to enjoy their art, as well. 

Key Features

  • Offers accessible discussions of complicated philosophical topics like aesthetic value, collective action problems, and epistemic justice
  • Provides a unique perspective and underexplored argument on the popular issue of cancellation
  • Explores the role of aesthetic value in our lives, including its relation to our ethical decisions and our well being

Table of Contents

  1. Introduction
  2. Boycotts as Punishment
  3. Expressive Boycotts
  4. Separating the Art from the Artists
  5. #CancelEverything
  6. Aesthetic Lives, Ethical Reasons

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Mary Beth Willard is Associate Professor of Philosophy at Weber State University in Ogden, Utah. She received her Ph.D. from Yale University and writes primarily on topics in aesthetics, and blogs at aestheticsforbirds.com.