Public Funding of Controversial Art
In 1990, the Act governing theUnited States' National Endowment for the Arts wasamended requiring the Chairperson to ensure thatjudges of grant applications should take intoconsideration ``general standards of decency andrespect for the diverse beliefs and values of theAmerican public''. This provision has been widelydebated, and was challenged on the basis of whether itviolated the right of freedom of expression. But arecent decision by the U.S. Supreme Court found theprovision to be constitutional. This paper examinesrationales that have been put forward by philosophicalliberals, economists, and communitarians in support ofpublic funding of the arts. It finds that for each ofthese rationales the decency-and-respect provision onfunding is justifiable. The paper concludes with aspeculative discussion of the economics of the``artworld''. Copyright Kluwer Academic Publishers 2000
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