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The Philosophy of Art and Literature

The nature and significance of art, and the links between art and notions of imagination, morality and truth, are topics that occupied a central place in the classical philosophical tradition, and which are the object of a thriving area of research in contemporary philosophy. The philosophy department at the University of Warwick is one of the most active centres for research on these topics in the UK. Specific issues that are of interest to researchers working in the department are Kantian aesthetics, philosophy of photography, mimesis, metaphor, contemporary art theory, conceptual art, the relation of aesthetic and ethical value in art, poetry, art and knowledge and humour’s potential for moral impact. Distinguishing features of research at Warwick are the links between analytic and continental approaches to these topics, and the links with researchers in the departments of History of Art, English and Comparative Literature Studies, French, German, Italian and Film & Television Studies. These strengths provide an exciting context for postgraduate research. The department is a home to the Centre for Research in Philosophy, Literature and the Arts, which runs a dynamic programme of events including regular seminar papers and workshops throughout the academic year, as well as special lectures, the contributions of distinguished Visiting Scholars, and major international conferences.

Questions that guide and inform the research of philosophers working in this field at Warwick are:

  • How can we care about fictional characters?
  • Can humour have a moral impact?
  • What is the role of aesthetic experience and judgement in individual and communal life?
  • What is distinctive about the nature of photographic depiction, and how does this impact on photography’s status as an art?
  • Are aesthetic theories of art adequate to the challenge of the hard cases of art after modernism?

Previous grants:

  • Aesthetics after Photography (AHRC-funded Research Project, 2007-11, co-directed by Dr Diarmuid Costello.


Miguel Beistegui
Diarmuid Costello
Stephen Houlgate
Eileen John

Postdocs / Fellows

Karen Simecek
Martin Warner

Research centre

Centre for Research in Philosophy, Literature and the Arts (CRPLA): The CRPLA provides a forum for research collaboration across philosophy, literature and the events. It runs a programme of seminars and workshops throughout the year.