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Defining Cultural and Artistic Goods

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  • McCain, Roger
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    This essay addresses the definition of artistic and cultural goods by the commonsense and pragmatic assertion that they are respectively goods that carry artistic and cultural (non-economic) values. However, these categories of non-economic value are themselves highly contested and require clarification for the definitions to be viable. The essay suggests an interpretation of the distinction of economic and non-economic values, and of non-economic cultural value, by drawing on the ideas of Nozick. For artistic value, the essay argues that creativity is a central concept, and explores the learning on creativity to be found in cognitive science. Cognitive science sees creativity as requiring both novelty and appropriateness to a particular cultural community. These insights underline some of the characteristics of markets for creative goods, including artistic goods, that cultural economists have stressed in their work independently of cognitive science. For artistic goods in particular, consumers join in the creativity of the artists, and this joint creativity enables us once again to invoke Nozick's concepts of intrinsic value and identify artistic value as a particular instance of non-economic value. The definitions are defended as coherent in the light of their consistency with economic thinking on stimulus goods and learning-by-consuming. Intellectual property is seen as overlapping but not necessary to artistic and cultural goods. Nothing in this essay should be taken as final, but, rather, as a possible starting point for a substantive discussion of non-economic values in these fields.

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    This chapter was published in:
  • V.A. Ginsburgh & D. Throsby (ed.), 2006. "Handbook of the Economics of Art and Culture," Handbook of the Economics of Art and Culture, Elsevier, edition 1, volume 1, number 1, December.
  • This item is provided by Elsevier in its series Handbook of the Economics of Art and Culture with number 1-05.
    Handle: RePEc:eee:artchp:1-05
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