Cognitive Science Lunchtime Talk
Maggots are Delicious, Sunsets Hideous: False, Or Do You just Disagree? Data on Truth Relativism about Judgments of Personal Taste and Aesthetics
Semantic theorists typically take genuine disagreement between judgments in a given domain to show that such judgments have contradictory contents—contents that cannot both be true. Many try to accommodate the comparative subjectivity of certain evaluative judgments, like those of taste and aesthetics, but most semantic theories in this domain (including objectivism, contextualism, truth relativism, and modern versions of expressivism) are primarily put forward on the basis of their ability to explain the purported contradiction datum. I present results from three new experiments, however, showing that while most people think they can disagree about matters of taste and aesthetics, this is not because they think these judgments contradict. The supposed datum with which many semanticists would motivate their theories is in fact no datum at all. These results further suggest that many people doubt whether judgments of personal taste and aesthetics are so much as truth-apt in the first place.