Fall 2023 - PHIL 467W E100

Seminar II (4)

Aesthetic Judgment

Class Number: 5787

Delivery Method: In Person


  • Course Times + Location:

    Sep 6 – Dec 5, 2023: Wed, 4:30–7:20 p.m.

  • Prerequisites:

    Two 300-division PHIL courses.



May be repeated for credit. Writing.


Selected Topics: Aesthetic Judgment
[Note: this course is to be taught concurrently with PHIL 826.]

This course will take on the interrelated questions about the nature of aesthetic reasons and aesthetic judgment.

There are three main issues we will look at. First is the Acquaintance Principle (sometimes called the “autonomy” of aesthetic judgment), which claims that in order to have a justified aesthetic judgment or aesthetic knowledge, one has to have experienced the artwork firsthand. Second is the claim that there are rules or principles governing beauty and good art. Third is aesthetic realism, the claim that there really are things that are beautiful and artistically/aesthetically good – that these things aren’t just in the eye of the beholder.

Each claim is controversial. And all three are tightly interconnected in philosophically interesting and sometimes surprising ways. The course subject matter is best thought of as a hybrid of meta-ethics and aesthetics (as a course in what one might call “meta-aesthetics”).


This course may be applied towards the Writing Requirement (and the upper division Writing Requirement for Philosophy majors).

By the end of the course, students should be able to:

  •  Identify and reconstruct philosophical arguments
  •  Be able to read a text closely and carefully
  •  Engage critically with a variety of views in contemporary aesthetics
  •  Formulate their views as well-argued essays


  • Participation 20%
  • Short assignments 25%
  • Presentation 15%
  • Term paper 40%



All materials will be made available via Canvas.


Your personalized Course Material list, including digital and physical textbooks, are available through the SFU Bookstore website by simply entering your Computing ID at: shop.sfu.ca/course-materials/my-personalized-course-materials.

Department Undergraduate Notes:

Thinking of a Philosophy Major or Minor? The Concentration in Law and Philosophy? The Certificate in Ethics? The Philosophy and Methodology of Science Certificate?
Contact the PHIL Advisor at philcomm@sfu.ca   More details on our website: SFU Philosophy

Registrar Notes:


SFU’s Academic Integrity website http://www.sfu.ca/students/academicintegrity.html is filled with information on what is meant by academic dishonesty, where you can find resources to help with your studies and the consequences of cheating. Check out the site for more information and videos that help explain the issues in plain English.

Each student is responsible for his or her conduct as it affects the university community. Academic dishonesty, in whatever form, is ultimately destructive of the values of the university. Furthermore, it is unfair and discouraging to the majority of students who pursue their studies honestly. Scholarly integrity is required of all members of the university. http://www.sfu.ca/policies/gazette/student/s10-01.html


Students with a faith background who may need accommodations during the semester are encouraged to assess their needs as soon as possible and review the Multifaith religious accommodations website. The page outlines ways they begin working toward an accommodation and ensure solutions can be reached in a timely fashion.