Autonomism In John Carroll's Moderate Moralism

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In 'Moderate Moralism', Carroll (1996) argues that artistic autonomy does not preclude a moral approach to artworks. That is, unlike autonomism, which holds that aesthetic evaluations of artworks are always autonomous from moral components, some works of art trade in moral emotions as part of their aesthetic form. In this analysis I will briefly explain Carroll's argument, which focuses on narrative artworks, and is contrasted with autonomism in both its radical and moderate forms. Although Carroll easily dispatches with radical autonomism, his moderate moralist approach does not adequately deal with moderate autonomism, which ultimately, I consider to be a better position.

Carroll asserts that some types of artworks, particularly narratives, are aesthetically evaluable in terms of morality. For him, narrative artworks rely heavily on the elicitation of moral emotions from viewers in order to be intelligible and aesthetically successful (Carroll 1996: 227-228). That is, narratives do not spell-out every detail of the narrative, but
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He easily shows radical autonomism to be fatally flawed due to its 'common denominator' argument (Carroll 1996: 226). Alternatively, the moderate autonomist position is far more promising, as it accepts that some artworks do possess moral components, and that it makes sense to talk about, and evaluate them, on moral grounds. However, such an autonomist asserts that aesthetic evaluation remains independent from moral judgements, regardless of the moral judgements or emotions an artwork draws from a viewer (Carroll 1996: 231-232). Carroll considers this wrong, because, if narratives require moral responses to be intelligible and aesthetically successful, aesthetic judgements cannot be sealed off from moral evaluations (Carroll 1996: 232-233). So, for Carroll, narratives result in moral and aesthetic components being wed, not being independent, as the autonomist

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