Skip to main content

Call for Papers: Photography Special Issue

In recent decades, the philosophical literature on photography has flourished (see, for example: Scruton 1981; Walton 1984; Currie 1991; Maynard 2000; Savedoff 2000; Friday 2002; Cohen and Meskin 2008; Gaut 2008; Davies 2009; Phillips 2009; Abell 2010; Nanay 2010; Atencia-Linares 2012; Pettersson 2012; Mag Uidhir 2012; Cavedon-Taylor 2013; Benovsky 2014; Hopkins 2015; Lopes 2016; Walden 2016; Costello 2017; Toister 2020; Anscomb 2021; Wilson 2021). Despite these developments, disagreement persists about how to define photography, whether it is an art form independently of other media and if so how, whether it has any epistemic advantages over other media, how it is changing in the digital age, and the ontology of photographic works. This special issue seeks to advance the debate about the philosophy of photography, and how we should understand and appreciate photographic practices and their products. To this end, Dr Dawn Wilson (University of Hull) will be contributing a target article, “Music, Visualisation and the Multi-stage Account of Photography”, which has been specially written for this issue.

The editors invite papers of up to 3,500 words, that are either original articles on any topic relating to the philosophy of photography or that directly engage with the content of Dr Wilson’s article. Accepted papers of the latter kind will be published alongside the target article with a response by Dr Wilson. An abstract of Dr Wilson’s article can be found to the right. Those who are interested in responding to Dr Wilson’s work are asked to contact the editors ( who will pass along a draft of the article. All those who submit a paper are also asked to state whether they would be interested in participating in a workshop that is being planned on the theme of this issue (more details to follow on this).

Deadline for Submission: 16 September 2022

Submission guidelines

Target Article Abstract

Ansel Adams proposed an analogy between fine art photography and classical music. I find this music-photography analogy compelling, though I will recommend modifications. Full benefit from the analogy, I suggest, can be obtained from a multi-stage account of photography rather than the single-stage account assumed by Adams. Like his contemporary, Edward Weston, Adams claimed that visualisation is essential for creating fine art photography. But, unlike Weston, he believed that a print from a negative is like a performance from a score. In his analogy, a photographer’s visualisation is like a musician’s composition: once it has been set down in a ‘score’, it can be expressively rendered by different performers, making it possible to create and critically appreciate ‘performances’ with different qualities. I argue that this analogy makes Adams’s conception of photographic visualisation more fruitful than Weston’s alternative. However, while I agree with Adams that a print is analogous to a performance, I criticise his idea that a negative is like a score. I argue that he holds a traditional, single-stage conception of photography, which led him to overlook a key distinction between undeveloped film and the developed negative. The multi-stage account of photography that I defend not only remedies this problem, but also shows how Adams’s proposal can be fully realised in digital photography. Most significantly, it offers an invitation to theorists and practitioners to expand the music-photography analogy by considering wider varieties of music, not only performances from a score.

The Target Article Author

Dr Dawn M. Wilson works on language, thought, images, technology and art. Her 2009 article, ‘Photography and Causation’, launched a field of debate known as the ‘New Theory’ of photography and was selected as one of twelve classic texts to celebrate the 60th anniversary of the British Journal of Aesthetics. She recently published ‘Invisible Images and Indeterminacy: Why we need a Multi-stage Account of Photography’ (JAAC 2021) and ‘Reflecting, Registering, Recording and Representing: From Light Image to Photographic Picture’, (The Proceedings of the Aristotelian Society, 2022). She is co-authoring, with Laure Blanc-Benon, the photography entry for the Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy.

Essay Prize

Any postgraduate student or early-career researchers who have papers accepted for this issue will be considered for the annual Debates in Aesthetics essay prize. The winner of this prize will be awarded £250.

Call for Papers

We are pleased to invite submissions for our next General Issue. 

For this issue we welcome original articles, book reviews, and interviews from postgraduate and professional philosophers on any topic in philosophy of art or aesthetics. Submissions should be accessible and concise – around 3,000-3,500 words for articles and interviews and around 1,000-1,500 words for book reviews. All submissions should be anonymised for blind review and in Word Document Format (.docx). All submissions by early career researchers and postgraduate students will be eligible for the Debates in Aesthetics Prize. 

Deadline for Submission: 4th November 2022

Submission guidelines


3,000-3,500 words
The journal publishes articles on a wide range of topics, from defining satire to photography, musical expression, feminism, fictional truth, aesthetic realism, or expressive qualities in animals, and more… For this issue we welcome work on any topic from philosophical aesthetics.


3,000-3,500 words
Sometimes the finest philosophical discussion happens in conversation. The journal has Sometimes the finest philosophical discussion happens in conversation. The journal has published some excellent interviews with philosophers and artists alike, including Angela Leighton, Noël Carroll, Santiago Sierra, Alexander Nehamas, and Dominic McIver Lopes. If you are particularly interested in someone’s work, interviewing them could be a great opportunity to not only learn more about their philosophy, but also exchange ideas, and examine the hidden assumptions or implications of their work. We are happy to provide feedback on interview proposals. Prior to submission, please ensure that your interview has been read and approved by the interviewee. We especially encourage interviews with philosophers from underrepresented groups.

Book Reviews

1,000-1,500 words
The journal also welcomes book reviews or critical summaries on books relevant to our field. These should be on a recent publication, and around 1,000-1,500 words. If you would like to review a book, it might be worth looking at publisher’s websites, such as Oxford University Press or Routledge, for new and upcoming releases in aesthetics.

New Editor

The editors of Debates in Aesthetics are delighted to introduce their new co-editor, Harry Drummond. Harry completed his BA and MA at Durham University, before moving to the University of Liverpool to undertake his PhD under the supervision of Vid Simoniti. He is currently researching how enactivism can inform our understanding of aesthetic experience, focussing particularly on the role of social cognition. He’ll be a visiting researcher at the University of Memphis in the fall, and published his first article with Debates in Aesthetics in 2021.

Essay Prize

We are pleased to announce that Harry Drummond is the winner of the 2021 Debates in Aesthetics Essay prize. Drummond’s essay ‘Architectural Value and the Artistic Value of Architecture’ was published in our latest issue and is available on our website; read it here. The British Society of Aesthetics generously awards the winning essay £250.

In the essay, Drummond seeks to demarcate architectural value from artistic value. He motivates the necessity of this project by showing that, within philosophical discussion of architecture as an artform, architectural value and artistic value are often referred to interchangeably with no explicit differentiation between them. Nevertheless, a convergence between these two values is seldom supported or argued for overtly, so Drummond refers to the assumption of their equivalence as the implicit claim. Drummond argues against this implicit claim with the goal of showing that architectural value has an independent significance that extends beyond what is attributed to architecture by virtue of its classification as a subgenre of the arts. In doing so, Drummond presents an important advance in conceptual refinement in thinking about the arts.

Harry Drummond is currently an AHRC NWCDTP funded PhD student, cross-institutionally supervised by Dr. Vid Simoniti (University of Liverpool) and Dr. Cain Todd (Lancaster University). His research focuses on interpersonal aesthetics and the possibility of shared aesthetic experiences, with a focus on relational and participatory art.

The Debates in Aesthetics Prize (formerly the Postgraduate Journal of Aesthetics Prize) is awarded to the best paper by a postgraduate student or early career academic. For this award all papers from our last two published issues were taken into consideration. The papers were judged by the current, and previous, editors of the journal. The next prize will be awarded to the best paper in our forthcoming special and general issues, more information about which will be shared soon.

The previous winner of the prize was Yorick Berta, for the paper ‘Sensory Augmentation and the Tactile Sublime’ (Published in Vol 15 No 1, read it here).

New Editor

The editors of Debates in Aesthetics are delighted to introduce their new co-editor, Sarah Kiernan. Sarah completed her MA on Kantian aesthetics at the University of Auckland before coming to Birkbeck, University of London where she is currently completing her PhD on Hegel’s aesthetic philosophy and modern art. We thank our outgoing editor Eleen M. Deprez for her hard work, and wish her all the best for the future.

Essay Prize

We are pleased to announce that Yorick Berta is the winner of the 2020 Debates in Aesthetics Essay prize. Berta’s essay “Sensory Augmentation and the Tactile Sublime” was published in our latest issue and is available on our website; read it here. In his article Berta presents an insightful and highly original argument about the possibilities of technologically enhanced experiences. The British Society of Aesthetics generously awards the winning essay £250.

In the essay Berta explores a range of devices that transform or “augment” our sensory perception. An example he discusses is Moon Ribas’ Seismic Sense: a sensor worn by the artist that vibrates when an earthquake occurs somewhere in the world. This device, Berta says, not only notifies or alerts the artist of an earthquake happening, but gives rise to an affective experience (one of feeling “close”, “connected”, or even “being there”). Seismic Sense, and the other devices Berta discusses, illustrate that our brain can adapt to new sensory stimuli. In the final section of his article Berta pushes further and argues that devices like Seismic Sense can facilitate aesthetic experiences of the sublime.

Yorick Berta is an independent scholar and writer based in Vienna. He is starting a PhD project this autumn at the University of Arts and Industrial Design Linz. Berta will be looking at the use of organic and decaying materials in the art of the 60s, for example in movements like Fluxus or Land Art or in the oeuvre of artists like Dieter Roth, Gordon Matta-Clark and Robert Rauschenberg. Exhibited inside the white cube, artworks made out of chocolate, yeast, or cheese enter a highly ambiguous relationship with their institutional frame, posing questions regarding the attribution of value to art, the distinction of art and life and the legitimacy of conservation endeavours. In his research Berta will frame these artworks as a form of non-human agency entering the Western art system.

The Debates in Aesthetics Prize (formerly the Postgraduate Journal of Aesthetics Prize) is awarded to best paper by a postgraduate student or early career academic. For this award all papers from our last published issue were taken into consideration. The papers were judged by members of the editorial board, the editors, and previous editors of the journal. The next prize will be awarded to the best paper in our next general issue, for which we are currently inviting submissions (deadline 31 July 2020), see the call for papers here.

The previous winner of the prize was Lewis Coyne, for the paper ‘Heidegger and the problem of the Sublime’ (Published in Vol 10 No 1, read it here).

Coming soon

  • A special issue of Debates in Aesthetics is being planned on the topic of ‘Beauty in Contemporary Aesthetics’. More information about this issue will follow soon.