Art, Artifacts, and Margolis’ Recovery of Objectivity
Margolis aims for a ‘recovery of objectivity’. This may seem more suited to epistemologists or ethicists but Margolis saw reforming objectivity emerging from and contributing to his aesthetics and philosophy of art. My goal in this essay is to explain the connection of objectivity to aesthetics and then to offer some critical remarks which introduce an arguably richer version of objectivity, ‘pragmatic objectivity’. The introductory section explores Margolis’s motives for expanding aesthetics beyond its usual boundaries. Section 2 explores why artworks and selves are interdependent and artifactual, and how this prepares the ground for his recovery of objectivity. Section 3 considers Margolis’ more abstract, metaphysical context for objectivity, his modified relativism. At this point, Section 4 is able to lay out his revamped objectivity. Section 5 does the majority of this paper’s critical work: it explains why Margolis’ view might be considered a ‘pragmatic’ objectivity and advances some ways in which Margolis’ version might be filled in and extended. A brief conclusion identifies differences between the author’s and Margolis’ approach.