The Sixty-Fifth Annual Meeting of the American Society for Aesthetics was held November 7-10, 2007, at the Sheraton Downtown in Los Angeles, California. The program featured a plenary address, 29 papers, and 15 panels and special sessions.
Mitchell Avila and Amy Coplan (California State University, Fullerton) handled local arrangements. Their walking tours, restaurant recommendations, and other arrangements were greatly appreciated. They also appear to be responsible for the presence of a strong showing of students at several of the meeting sessions.
Many conference attendees took advantage of the cultural opportunities afforded by our location near the L.A. Museum of Contemporary Art and the Walt Disney Concert Hall. The reception following Thursday’s plenary address was held on the fifth floor of the Dorothy Chandler Pavilion in the Los Angeles Music Center.
The program was created in the usual manner. A call for submissions was issued before the Sixty-Fourth Annual Meeting, resulting in 56 submitted papers and 11 panel
submissions. (This submission rate compares favorably with recent meetings.) Multiple
committee members ranked submissions. When equivalently ranked, papers received
priority over panels. In addition, a Special Session was created for the winner of the John
Fisher Prize (Maria Jose Alcarez-Leon on “The Rational Justification of Aesthetic
Judgements”). Following recent practice, program committee members were invited to
offer their own panel proposals, resulting in seven panel sessions.
I am deeply indebted to the program committee – Jeanette Bicknell, John Carvalho, Ivan
Gaskell, Flo Leibowitz, Sheila Lintott, Aaron Meskin, Monique Roelofs, James Shelley,
Robert Stecker, and Dabney Townsend – for their dedication in evaluating submissions
and for their valuable advice. I offer special thanks to Ivan Gaskell for his help in the
process of arranging for and then introducing our plenary speaker, Deborah Marrow,
Director of the Getty Foundation. Special thanks are also extended to Jennifer Judkins for
her help with local arrangements for the Aesthetic Attitude jazz group, who performed on
Saturday immediately following the closing session. Dom Lopes provided invaluable
assistance in making the call for papers, the program, and other materials available
through the ASA website. This year, abstracts for each paper and panel were posted on
Our daily format was roughly the same as was used last year for the meeting in
Milwaukee, including a combined luncheon and business meeting on Saturday. However,
we experimented with traditional formats by varying the amount of time assigned to
different panels. Panels varied in being assigned 90 minutes, two hours, or two and a half hours. In almost all cases, times were assigned according to the number of panel
participants. Aside from a few late starts, almost all session chairs followed our
instructions for keeping sessions running on schedule. Their enforcement of the schedule
provided time for robust audience participation, resulting in strong approbation from
As usual, the program was constructed so that three distinct topics were presented at any
given time – attendees with a special interest in the history of aesthetics did not have to
choose, for instance, between a paper on Hume and a paper on Kant. In addition to
relatively traditional topics (e.g., visual art, defining art, and the history of aesthetics),
there were sessions on aesthetics and empirical science, the aesthetics of animals,
collectively produced art, improvisation, popular art, and “extended” fictions. There were
three “Author Meets Critics” sessions (Noël Carroll’s The Philosophy of Motion Pictures, James Hamilton’s The Art of Theater, and Julian Dodd’s Works of Music: An Essay in Ontology). There was a session on aesthetics and race, and three
sessions on film (or four, counting the Carroll book session). Our speakers represented
many fields besides philosophy, including psychology, film studies, art history, museum
education, theater, humanities, cultural studies, anthropology, communication studies,
comparative literature, Egyptology, and astronomy.