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Architecture, Buildings, and Political Ends


  • Saul Fisher Mercy College



built environment, politics, architecture


It is not infrequently heard in architectural circles that architecture is an inherently political enterprise and pursuit, such that build structures are, correspondingly, inherently political objects.  But does architecture, by its nature as practice or artifact, universally serve political ends?  Taking ends of something X to be political iff X serves the projection of power by state or government, or advances policy-making, ideologies, or the body politic, it may be thought that

AP1. Architecture, in its products, always serves political ends.

on the grounds that, roughly speaking, wherever one looks, one finds cases providing evidence that

AP2. Buildings (built structures, generally) always serve political ends, and

AP3. Buildings (built structures) are the only products of architecture.

On the supposition that this fairly tracks the common view, I take for granted that the argument goes through if the premises are defensible.  I propose, though, that neither AP2 nor AP3 are defensible, at least in the grand, universal fashion that they are offered.


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The Problem of the Building (Philosophy of Architecture)

How to Cite

“Architecture, Buildings, and Political Ends”. 2023. Aesthetic Investigations 6 (1): 19-32.