A paradox in intentionalism

Daniel O. Nathan

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

4 Scopus citations


I argue that intentionalism in aesthetics and in legal interpretation is vulnerable to a different sort of criticism than is found in the voluminous literature on the topic. Specifically, a kind of paradox arises for the intentionalist out of recognition of a second-order intention embedded in the social practices that characterize both art and law. The paper shows how this second-order intention manifests itself in each of the two enterprises, and argues that its presence entails the overriding centrality of the public text, and hence a rejection of the interpretive stance distinctive of intentionalism itself.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)32-48
Number of pages17
JournalBritish Journal of Aesthetics
Issue number1
StatePublished - 2005


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