Date of Award


Document Type

Open Access Dissertation



First Advisor

Christopher O Tollefsen


Many people share the belief that the state can lend support to the arts and the natural environment for their cultural and aesthetic qualities. However, the question remains open as to what justifies this support. This question hinges on whether the state must be neutral in reference to judgment of values. The political anti-perfectionist positions of Rawls and Dworkin are inadequate to justify this kind of state support because the funding of art necessarily involves a judgment of value in two ways. First, the fact that the state funds any art requires that, in general, art is valuable. Second, determining which art to fund, since presumably the state cannot fund all art, requires making a value judgment about which art is worth funding. Thus, in order to justify art's funding, a theory of the state must allow judgments of value. Even if we have a theory of the state that allows the state to act on judgments of value, this alone does not prove that art is the kind of thing that the state should support.

Why should the state care specifically about art? I argue that aesthetic experience is the most fundamental purpose of art and that aesthetic experience is a basic human good. The state exists for the common good of its citizens. Thus it has a vested interest in things that lead to the citizens' well-being, like aesthetic experience. And this is what justifies the state in supporting the arts. To illustrate how this works on a practical level, I show how art is funded in the United States, while also pointing out ways that it could be funded differently depending on circumstances.

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Philosophy Commons