William & Mary

Recent and Forthcoming Faculty Books

The philosophy department at William & Mary has specialists working in most of the major areas of philosopy, but it is particularly strong in Value Theory, broadly speaking. This strength is on display especially in five recently published or forthcoming books by Professors Costelloe, Gert, Goldman, and Tognazzini.

1. Timothy Costelloe, The British Aesthetic Tradition: From Shaftesbury to Wittgenstein, Cambridge University Press, forthcoming.

2. Timothy Costelloe, ed., The Sublime, Cambridge University Press, 2012.

3. Joshua Gert, Normative Bedrock: Response-Dependence, Rationality, and Reasons, Oxford University Press, forthcoming.

4. Alan Goldman, Philosophy and the Novel, Oxford University Press, forthcoming.

5. Neal A. Tognazzini, ed. (co-edited with D. Justin Coates), Blame: Its Nature and Norms, Oxford University Press, forthcoming.

Congratulations to these four professors on their accomplishments! Descriptions of each book appear below.


Costelloe, The British Aesthetic Tradition: From Shaftesbury to Wittgenstein

The British Aesthetic Tradition: From Shaftesbury to Wittgenstein is the first single volume to offer readers a comprehensive and systematic history of aesthetics in Britain and the United States from its inception in the early eighteenth century to major developments in the late twentieth century. The book consists of an introduction and eight chapters, and is divided into three parts. The first part, The Age of Taste, covers the eighteenth-century approaches of internal sense theorists, imagination theorists, and associationists. The second, The Age of Romanticism, takes readers from debates over the picturesque through British Romanticism to late Victorian criticism. The third, The Age of Analysis, covers early twentieth-century theories of Formalism and Expressionism to conclude with Wittgenstein and a number of views inspired by his thought.

Costelloe, The Sublime

This volume offers readers a unique and comprehensive overview of theoretical perspectives on "the sublime," the singular aesthetic response elicited by phenomena that move viewers by transcending and overwhelming them. The book consists of an editor's introduction and fifteen chapters written from a variety of disciplinary perspectives. Part One examines philosophical approaches advanced historically to account for the phenomenon, beginning with Longinus, moving through eighteenth and nineteenth century writers in Britain, France, and Germany, and concluding with developments in contemporary continental philosophy. Part Two explores the sublime with respect to particular disciplines and areas of study, including Dutch literature, early modern America, the environment, religion, British Romanticism, the fine arts, and architecture. Each chapter is both accessible for nonspecialists and offers an original contribution to its respective field of inquiry.

Gert, Normative Bedrock: Response-Dependence, Rationality, and Reasons

Joshua Gert presents an original and ambitious theory of the normative. Expressivism and non-reductive realism represent two very widely separated poles in contemporary discussions of normativity. But the domain of the normative is both large and diverse; it includes, for example, the harmful, the fun, the beautiful, the wrong, and the rational. It would be extremely surprising if either expressivism or non-reductive realism managed to capture all--or even the most important--phenomena associated with all of these notions. Normative Bedrock defends a response-dependent account of the normative that accommodates the kind of variation in response that some non-reductive realists downplay or ignore, but that also allows for the sort of straightforward talk of normative properties, normative truth, and substantive normative disagreement that expressivists have had a hard time respecting.
One of the distinctive features of Gert's approach is his reliance, throughout, on an analogy between color properties and normative properties. He argues that the appropriate response to a given instance of a normative property may often depend significantly on the perspective one takes on that instance: for example, whether one views it as past or future. Another distinctive feature of Normative Bedrock is its focus on the basic normative property of practical irrationality, rather than on the notion of a normative reason or the notion of the good. This simple shift of focus allow for a more satisfying account of the link between reasons and motivation, and helps to explain why and how some reasons can justify far more than they can require, and why we therefore need two strength values to characterize the normative capacities of practical reasons.

Alan Goldman, Philosophy and the Novel

Part 1, philosophy of novels, contains chapters on literary value and interpretation.  These are followed by supporting chapters containing analyses of The Sun Also Rises (showing that incompatible interpretations can be equally acceptable) and of mystery novels (explaining their appeal in terms of their literary value).  Part 2, philosophy in novels, examines themes relating to moral development, moral motivation, rules, and moral disintegration in Pride and Prejudice, Huckleberry Finn, The Cider House Rules, and Nostromo.  The book contrasts with more abstract approaches to philosophy of literature in its detailed analyses of five different novels and a genre.
Part 1, philosophy of novels, defends theories of literary value and interpretation.  Literary value, the value of literary works as such, is a species of aesthetic value.  Works have aesthetic value when they simultaneously engage all our mental capacities: perceptual, cognitive, imaginative, and emotional.  This view contrasts with now prevalent narrower formalist views of literary value.  According to it, cognitive engagement with novels includes appreciation of their broad themes and the theses these imply, often moral and hence philosophical theses, which are therefore part of the novels’ literary value.  Interpretation explains elements of works so as to allow readers maximum appreciation, so as to maximize the literary value of the texts as written.  Once more this view contrasts with narrower views of literary interpretation, especially that which limits it to uncovering what authors intended.  One implication of the broader view is the possibility of incompatible but equally acceptable interpretations, which is illustrated by rival interpretations of The Sun Also Rises.  The theory of value is tested by explaining the immense appeal of good mystery novels in its terms.  Part 2, philosophy in novels, explores themes relating to moral agency—moral development, motivation, and disintegration—in Pride and Prejudice, Huckleberry Finn, The Cider House Rules, and Nostromo.  By narrating the course of characters’ lives, including their inner lives, over extended periods, these novels allow us to vicariously experience the characters’ moral progressions, positive and negative, to learn in a more focused way moral truths, as we do from real life experiences.

Neal A. Tognazzini, Blame: Its Nature and Norms

One mark of interpersonal relationships is a tendency to blame. But what precise evaluations and responses constitute blame? Is it most centrally a judgment, or is it an emotion, or something else? Does blame express a demand, or embody a protest, or does it simply mark an impaired relationship? What accounts for its force or sting, and how similar is it to punishment?
The essays in this volume explore answers to these (and other) questions about the nature of blame, but they also explore the various norms that govern the propriety of blame. The traditional question is whether anyone ever deserves to be blamed, but the essays here provide a fresh perspective by focusing on blame from the blamer's perspective instead. Is our tendency to blame a vice, something we should work to replace with more humane ways of relating, or does it rather lie at the very heart of a commitment to morality? What can we legitimately expect of each other, and in general, what sort of attitude do would-be blamers need to have in order to have the standing to blame? Hypocritical or self-righteous blame seems objectionable, but why?
The contributions to this volume aim to give us a fuller picture of the nature and norms of blame, and more generally of the promises and perils of membership in the human moral community.