Document Type


Publication Date

Fall 2014




Nelson Goodman's distinction between autographic and allographic arts is appealing, we suggest, because it promises to resolve several prima facie puzzles. We consider and rebut a recent argument that alleges that digital images explode the autographic/allographic distinction. Regardless, there is another familiar problem with the distinction, especially as Goodman formulates it: it seems to entirely ignore an important sense in which all artworks are historical. We note in reply that some artworks can be considered both as historical products and as formal structures. Talk about such works is ambiguous between the two conceptions. This allows us to recover Goodman's distinction: art forms that are ambiguous in this way are allographic. With that formulation settled, we argue that digital images are allographic. We conclude by considering the objection that digital photographs, unlike other digital images, would count as autographic by our criterion; we reply that this points to the vexed nature of photography rather than any problem with the distinction.


This is the pre-peer reviewed version of the following article: D'CRUZ, J. and MAGNUS, P.D. (2014), Are Digital Images Allographic?. The Journal of Aesthetics and Art Criticism, 72: 417–427. doi: 10.1111/jaac.12117, which has been published in final form at This article may be used for non-commercial purposes in accordance with Wiley Terms and Conditions for Self-Archiving.

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