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David Hume and the Paradox of Taste Public Deposited

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  • David Hume’s resolution of the paradox of taste poses an interesting question for us to ponder. Rather than take a purely subjectivist or objectivist view of the topic, Hume strikes a balance between the two positions by upholding two of three statements regarding taste that are widely held to be true. Hume claims that only judgements of taste that are in accordance with the standard of taste are correct. The standard of taste is established by a joint verdict of acknowledged experts in the identification and evaluation of art. I argue that Hume’s assertions about taste are problematic. The experts that Hume claims exist are not useful if they can not be independently verified or if their heightened acuity of perception is fundamentally different from the average persons. Through various analogies, I demonstrate the shortcomings of Hume’s experts. However, assuming that Hume’s experts exist, they may be deserving of our deference if they are able to use their heightened acuity of perception to expand the lay-person’s appreciation of works of art. Previous literature has taken issue with Hume’s argument before. Both Isabel Hungerland and Peter Kivy have both objected on the grounds of the inability to independently verify the verdicts of the experts. Kivy, in particular, has gripes with the standard of taste as described by Hume’s proposal and is skeptical of deferring judgements to Hume’s proposed experts. In my essay, I propose an alternative use of the experts that circumvents these issues.
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  • Corvallis, Oregon, USA
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