Daniel Star: "Photography and Artistic Luck"

The Higher Seminar in Aesthetics

Daniel Star, Boston University: "Photography and Artistic Luck"

Contemporary philosophy of photography has focused on one topic more than any other: skepticism concerning the status of photography as an art form. Surprisingly, the particular form of skepticism philosophers have identified is not the form that most worried actual photographers and art critics in the past, or so it appears if we take a recent work of art history seriously: Robin Kelsey’s Photography and the Art of Chance (2015). According to Kelsey, the historical source of doubt concerning the potential for photography to be art has more to do with the way good photographs are or can be the products of luck than with the idea that photographs must capture mind independent properties in the world. Following the lead of this important work, I carefully formulate two versions of the overlooked luck based skeptical argument. I argue that they both fail, partly by drawing on the philosophical literature on luck.