"Our beautiful racist statues" Ten-Herng Lai (University of Stirling)

Nov 16, 2023, 4:30 pm6:00 pm
Open to Princeton University ID Holders and Other Academic Affiliates


Event Description


While much has been said about what ought to be done about the statues and monuments of racist, colonial, and oppressive figures, a significantly undertheorized aspect of the debate is the aesthetics of commemorations. I believe that this philosophical oversight is rather unfortunate. I contend that taking the aesthetic value of commemorations seriously can help us a) better understand the extent to which objectionable commemorations are objectionable, b) properly formulate responses to aesthetic defences of objectionable commemorations, c) explore potential aesthetic solutions. Here, I propose that the aesthetic value of objectionable commemorations can amplify the force of the objectionable messages conveyed, and the moral disvalue of objectionable commemorations can hinder our appreciation of their aesthetic value. Both, I shall argue, give us further reason to confront objectionable commemorations and look for ways to save art from its own immorality.


Ten-Herng Lai is a lecturer at the University of Stirling. He is interested in defiance, and his research focuses on illegal activism (such as civil and uncivil disobedience) and the honoring of wrongdoers (especially through commemorative practices). He is also interested in democracy, hate speech, political philosophy of language, and applied ethics. He was the winner of the AAP Prize for Innovation in Inclusive Curricula 2020.

  • Department of Politics
  • University Center for Human Values
Event Category