The 72nd Annual Meeting of the American Society for Aesthetics was held at the Contessa Hotel in San Antonio, Texas, from 29 October to 1 November 2014.
The program committee received 78 submissions of papers (which included 16 from graduate students) and 12 submissions for panels. Of these, we accepted 40 papers and 8 panels. This is roughly the same as last year (which had 79 submitted papers and 16 panel proposals). The committee put forward two further panels. In addition, we were pleased to have three further panels honoring the work of much-missed members of the Society: Lee Brown, Ted Cohen, and Arthur Danto (although sadly the Danto panel could not go ahead owing to illness). We are very grateful to Sondra Bacharach and Stephanie Patridge, Richard Eldridge, and Lydia Goehr for organizing these.
The panels were on the following topics: Rough Heroes and Immoderate Moralists; Towards an Aesthetics of Rap; Slavery in Contemporary Cinema; The Philosophy of Design; and History and Criticism in Philosophy and the Arts. In addition, there were ‘Author Meets Critics’ sessions on Jennifer McMahon’s Art and Ethics in a Material World: Kant’s Pragmatist Legacy; Arnold Berleant’s The Aesthetic Transformation of the Human World and Aesthetics Beyond the Arts: New and Recent Essays; Alan Goldman’s Philosophy and the Novel; and Christy Mag Uidhir’s Art and Art Attempts. The papers covered a large range of topics. There was quite a bit of history of philosophy this year (Kant, Schopenhauer, Collingwood, Kierkegaard, and Reid) as well as two sessions on (broadly) aesthetics and the law. Otherwise, all the usual topics were represented. Special mention should go to Henry Pratt’s thoughtful paper on pogonotrophic obligations.
Dom Lopes gave the Presidential Address: “Fans, Buffs, Freaks, and Nuts.” This entertained and instructed, and also gave us a glimpse of what looks to be a new project that will change the way we think about our relation with the arts and artistic judgment. On Friday night we were transported to Trinity University for a performance and discussion by SOLI, a chamber ensemble. Not only were the performances excellent, but the discussion was continuous with earlier discussions on the relation between musical genre and musical ontology.
This was the first year to benefit from several changes agreed by the Trustees. The SOLI concert was able to go ahead thanks for a $5000 fund for such events. A prize for the best graduate paper went to Emine Hande Tuna of the University of Alberta. There is also money to invite a scholar who would not otherwise come to the meeting; although we were successful in finding such a person, other commitments meant that, sadly, they had to withdraw fairly late in the process.
San Antonio proved an excellent venue. The hotel was comfortable and easy to negotiate, the Alamo was close by, Esquire did excellent cocktails, and the Riverwalk was great. The McNay Art Museum, with its temporary exhibition of Impressionist painting was superb.
I would like to thank the program committee: Keren Gorodeisky, Amy Coplan, Richard Eldridge, A.W. Eaton, Glenn Parsons, Luvell Anderson, Anna Christina Ribeiro, and John Hyman. It was a pleasure to work with them. In particular, I would like to thank Dabney Townsend for his contribution to the planning and organization, and Andrew Kania for sorting out what happened locally. This included organizing the SOLI ensemble event, and providing an excellent and reliable guide to local attractions, restaurants and bars. Finally, I would like to thank last year’s Program Chair, Aaron Meskin, for much help and useful advice.