The interactions of function and aesthetic value in artifacts

Robert Stecker

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

4 Scopus citations


In this paper, I ask: what is the role of function in appreciating artifacts? I will argue that several distinguishable functions are relevant to the aesthetic appreciation of artifacts, and sometimes more than one of these must be taken into account to adequately appreciate these objects. Second, I will claim that, while we can identify something we might call functional aesthetic value or functional beauty, the aesthetic properties that contribute to this value neither need to enhance the object's performance of its primary function nor manifest that function. There are broader criteria for what properties are relevant to functional beauty. Finally, I suggest that the aesthetic appreciation of artifacts may contribute to a larger appreciative project: The understanding and evaluation of a way of life, or social or cultural practices in which the artifact plays a role.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)19-36
Number of pages18
JournalGrazer Philosophische Studien
Issue number1
StatePublished - 2019


  • Artifact
  • Current capacity
  • Function
  • Problem of indeterminacy
  • Problem of translation
  • Proper function


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