Are Artworks More Like People than Artifacts? Individual Concepts and Their Extensions
Topics in Cognitive Science, 6, 647-662, 2014
16 Pages Posted: 23 Aug 2015
Date Written: 2014
This paper examines people's reasoning about identity continuity (i.e., how people decide that a particular object is the same object over time) and its relation to previous research on how people value one-of-a-kind artifacts, such as artwork. We propose that judgments about the continuity of artworks are related to judgments about the continuity of individual persons because art objects are seen as physical extensions of their creators. We report a reanalysis of previous data and the results of two new empirical studies that test this hypothesis. The first study demonstrates that the mere categorization of an object as 'art' versus 'a tool' changes people's intuitions about the persistence of those objects over time. In a second study, we examine some conditions that may lead artworks to be thought of as different from other artifacts. These observations inform both current understanding of what makes some objects one-of-a-kind as well as broader questions regarding the nature of people's intuitive theories for tracking the persistence of human agents.
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