The aim of this project is to develop a methodology for the evaluation of artworks given the potential ethical considerations surrounding them. I first begin by exploring a variety of different case studies that push against or reinforce common conceptions of how ethical considerations enter into our artistic evaluations. I introduce two tools, Fictionalism and Jonathan Gilmore’s Constitutive Artistic Ends, and examine their viability in identifying and correctly applying ethical considerations during evaluation.

I then consider and criticize the ideas of Leo Tolstoy, using artist declarations to levy objections along with my own against his position. I then synthesize Fictionalism and Gilmore’s theory while accounting for some of Tolstoy and the artists’ concerns to develop a conclusion. I then defend this conclusion against the anti-intentionalist objection and apply the arrived-at methodology, which views art from a functional lens and requires a reference to the ends of its design while also recognizing the public nature of evaluation injects political considerations into evaluative utterances, to evaluations of my initial case studies in addition to other examples.


Hustwit, Ronald




Aesthetics | Applied Ethics


Art, Evaluation

Publication Date


Degree Granted

Bachelor of Arts

Document Type

Senior Independent Study Thesis



© Copyright 2018 Nicklaus Wilcher