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Understanding the Controversy of Artistic Merits and Ethical Standards

Jan 14, 2023 | 0 comments

Jan 14, 2023 | Essays | 0 comments

Tower (2011) describes art as a skill that has aesthetic results. There are different types of art like music and paintings which are similar in composition in a way since they convey certain messages and demonstrates creativity. Therefore, there are general standards that artist agree to that constitutes art-that assists in distinguishing suitable art from unsuitable art. Evaluation of a particular depends on a number of qualities that the art may exhibit. However, there is controversy when it comes determining whether a particular art work has artistic merits. Whereas ethics are acceptable standards people live by. As much as we disagree about ethical theories we can all identify an unethical action when we see one (Tower, 2011).

Research conducted by Coast (2009) indicates that several people have come up with different conflicting theories about ethical standards all of them trying to prove the relevance of their theory to the society and questions whether they are right or wrong. However, Coasts (2009) says that these theories do not have any impact on our ability to distinguish between what is ethical and what is not. This is because ethics is related to culture and was there during the time our forefathers and cannot change overnight. Ethics is concerned with good and acceptable behavior that is in our minds and involve emotion hence is not easy to get rid of no matter how many theories they come up with.  Coast (2009) says that the emotions stimulated by seeing a person bridging ethical standards are normally universal for most of us however theories are as a result of reasons whose intentions are questionable.  Coast (2009) goes further to explain that it is, however, opposite in the case of art since the principles that determine good art and bad art as result of visible and realistic reasons hence easy to agree with but judging art work relies on emotions that is articulated differently therefore result to disagreement.

Art is open to debate, based on the fact we are all unique (Coast, 2009). What your neighbor likes might not be what appeals to you and that is the reason for the rise in different opinions when it comes to judging a particular art work. The work is exposed to critics from anyone and its judgment depends on the individuals taste and preference which are uncontrollable. As much as people may accept the art work the fact remains that not everyone would be on board with that decision. This is because the work may meet most of the general art standards such communicating the intended message appropriately but may fail to impress others maybe be due to visual impression in case it is a painting (Coast, 2009).

Coast (2009) says that most ethical theories tend to circulate around the explanation for conducting a particular action which is indeed debatable but no one can argue with facts. Ethical and unethical actions are facts whose role is to guide and protect the society for living in peace, they are not notions that people can argue about unlike the ethical theories that can be interpreted in any way. Just the same way art standards are facts about art work that have been identified agreed on while valuing someone’s work rely on opinions (Coast, 2009).

Camacho & Fernandez (2006) says that coming up with universal theories that are accepted by everyone is not easy since people look at to situations differently and everyone would have his or her own opinion concerning the matter subjecting them to critics and debate making it difficult to reach an agreement. However, we all know the rules of the society. Most of them were in place during the days of our forefathers and we have all been taught to identify and obey and those who forget are often reminded by the society (Camacho & Fernandez, 2006).  For instance it is unethical to abuse your neighbor for no reason that would be misconduct and unethical. However, in the case of, the opposite is true-reaching a consensus about issues distinguishing good art from bad art is less complicated because they observe the good and bad qualities and points them out however putting a value on a particular art may result to dispute.

Indeed, we may agree about general standards in the in the arts but disagree as to whether a particular work has artistic merits. However, when it comes to ethics may disagree with ethical theories but know an unethical action when we see one. This is because, general art standards are facts and determining the value of a particular art work requires application of these general standards which depends on Individual’s taste and preferences hence brought about by the unique nature of humans is bound to create controversy just as in the case of ethics, ethical standards are facts based on the acceptable moral behavior and ethical theories are notions that can be interpreted differently hence results to controversy. Moreover, the values that distinguish good art and bad art are subjected to reason while evaluation of a particular art is subjected to emotions which is the opposite when it comes to ethics.


Camacho, A. S., & Fernandez Balboa, J. (2006). Ethics, politics and bio-pedagogy in physical education teacher education: easing the tension between the self and the group. Sport Education and Society. doi: 10.1080/13573320500255023

Coats, A. J. (2009). Ethical Authorship and Publishing. International Journal of Cardiology. Doi:10.1016/j.ijcard.2008.11.048

Tower C.N. (2011). An Evaluation of compositions for wind band according to specific criteria of serious artistic merits: A second update.




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