Literature and Morality

Ted Cohen

in The Oxford Handbook of Philosophy and Literature

Published in print April 2009 | ISBN: 9780195182637
Published online September 2009 | | DOI:

Series: Oxford Handbooks in Philosophy

Literature and Morality

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  • Aesthetics and Philosophy of Art



This article looks at the influence of literature on morality. The idea that art or literature has or can have something to do with morality is an old and enduring idea, but today this idea appears in at least two continuing discussions. These discussions revolve around the questions of whether acquaintance with works of art can have a moral effect upon an audience and whether the moral character of a work of art is relevant in its aesthetic assessment. This article also examines whether morally objectionable features of a fiction count against its aesthetic merit.

Keywords: literature; morality; works of art; aesthetic assessment; fiction; objectionable content

Article.  5006 words. 

Subjects: Philosophy ; Aesthetics and Philosophy of Art

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