Intention, description and the aesthetic: the by-product argument

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Stephen Mumford argues that positive aesthetic value is a by-product of both sport and art, and that the principal aim of the artist and the player or athlete could not be to produce positive aesthetic value. Three features of Mumford’s by-product argument are considered. It is argued that problems arise as a result of failure to appreciate Best’s distinction between the evaluative and conceptual uses of ‘aesthetic’, the nature of the descriptions Mumford gives of the intention of the artist in making art and the necessary implicit premises in the argument. There is, therefore, reason to think that Mumford has not established that sport and art are in the same position in the ways in which their aims relate to aesthetic values, nor that the by-product argument can form part of a counter to Best’s position.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)440-453
Number of pages14
JournalJournal of the Philosophy of Sport
Issue number3
Early online date4 Oct 2016
Publication statusPublished - 31 Oct 2016


  • Aesthetics of sport
  • David Best
  • Stephen Mumford
  • art
  • intention of the artist
  • the aesthetic


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