Abstract

Cultural intentions, understood as enabling conditions, some physical and technological, others conceptual and theoretical, make it possible for artists to create the artworks they create. These intentions play an ineliminable role in the mechanism of reference for artifact-kind terms, including art. Because of the crucial role that cultural intentions play in the mechanism of reference for artifact-kind terms, the reference of such terms cannot be properly understood in the same way as the reference of natural-kind terms, for intentions of any kind do not play a role in the reference of such terms as gold or water. I therefore reject the claim made by Hilary Putnam and others that the mechanism of reference for the two kinds of terms can be understood in the same way, while allowing, especially where art is concerned, that two of Putnam's ideas--the idea of a test known to experts and the idea of stereotypes--are applicable in discussions of artworks. Where art is concerned, we need something like the traditional account of reference that has been widely rejected in discussions of the reference of natural-kind terms.

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Additional Information

ISSN
1543-7809
Print ISSN
0021-8510
Pages
pp. 105-124
Launched on MUSE
2017-05-04
Open Access
No
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