The subject of aesthetics is often taken as dealing with questions of mere beauty, where the word ‘aesthetic’ is colloquially interchangeable with beauty and liking. Someone might, for instance, explain their liking the look of a particular object on the basis of its ‘aesthetics’. Interestingly, even within the specialised architecture discourse, the aesthetic is largely discussed on the basis of an object’s appearance. Yet, the aesthetic is not limited and should not be limited merely to the way things look. Any philosophically informed aesthetician, will contest this limited view, saying something along the lines of ‘the aesthetic is everything’. The aim of this conference is therefore in part to address this discursive limitation in architecture and related subjects by broadening the aesthetic discourse beyond questions relating to purely visual phenomena in order to include those derived from all facets of human experience. In taking on the aesthetic in manner that pushes its considerations beyond the realm of mere beauty, questions of ethics often arise. Indeed Wittgenstein is quoted as saying, “ethics and aesthetics are one and the same” (1921: §6.421). Questions as to why, for instance a building’s form takes the shape it does, not only raises the more conventional aesthetic questions but also questions about what purpose or meaning the building serves beyond purely visual stimulation. Does the form for instance relate somehow to a social ideal or economic ideal? And if so, is this ideal something that its inhabitants subscribe to or are even aware of? In an effort to draw thinkers’ attention to the ethical role architecture plays as well as the ethical function architects play, the second part of this conference call addresses this often overlooked dimension of architecture. Calling both philosophers and architects to grapple with questions regarding the ethical and aesthetic qualities of architecture, the hope is to propel the discourse beyond the limitations of a purely visual understanding of the architectural experiences. Such questions might include:

  • what is/ought to be pleasurable architecture and environmental experience?
  • how do/ought our experiences impact the aesthetics of architecture and environment?
  • how do/ought we appreciate architecture and environment?
  • how does/ought the ethical and aesthetic inform theunderstanding of architecture and environment?
  • what is/ought to be a good architect?
  • what is/ought to be a good architecture?
  • how does/ought architecture embody societal and cultural ethical codes?

Paper Abstracts should clearly address one of the highlighted themes above and be no more than 500 words. Additionally please see the conference’s strand pages for more information about the Ethics and Aesthetics of Landscape and the Ethics and Aesthetics of Professional Practice pages for more information regarding submissions. Please see each strand’s themes and submission guidelines (same deadlines apply throughout).

Conference Website

References: Wittgenstein, L. (1921 ) Tractatus Logico-PhilosophicusAbdingdon: Routledge.


Organized by Carolyn Fahey and Kati Blom.

Steering Committee includes Andrew Ballantyne, Nathaniel Coleman and Ian Thompson.