In a democratic culture, it may seem presumptuous to claim to have better taste than someone else. According to ‘Taste and order’, taste is intimately bound up with our personal life and moral identity. It is part of our rational nature to strive for a shared conception of value and this desire for a reasoned consensus spills over into the sense of beauty. Cultural variation does not imply the absence of cross-cultural universals: symmetry and order; proportion; closure; convention; harmony; novelty and excitement seem to have a permanent hold on the human psyche. Finally, we must recognize that attempting to prescribe objective standards threatens the enterprise it purports to judge.