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Monday, July 09, 2007

Questions of taste

The book on Questions of Taste, edited by Barry Smith is finally out. Read a first review by Nigel Warburton . My own contribution on Wine epistemology is online on this blog. I'm not a great expert on wine, as some of the other authors are, but for me it was a great fun trying to understand how you become an expert, how you acquire a taste for discrimination in a domain of knowledge such as wine.

In his review Nigel Warburton says that my position implies a sort of relativistic stance - the idea that wine taste is socially constructed. I don't take a clearcut position on this debate (realism-relativism), which I find often overstated; rather, my idea is that, no matter what are the facts of the matter underlying a domain of knowledge, to acquire a capacity of discrimination in that domain means to be able to master a series of evaluative and reputational cues that orient our way of conceiving that domain. This is true for physics as well as for wine, even if in one case the facts of the matters may be more robust than in the second case.