Musical Works as Structural Universals

Erkenntnis 88 (3):1245-67 (2023)
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In the ontology of music the Aristotelian theory of musical works is the view that musical works are immanent universals. The Aristotelian theory (hereafter Musical Aristotelianism) is an attractive and serviceable hypothesis. However, it is overlooked as a genuine competitor to the more well-known theories of Musical Platonism and nominalism. Worse still, there is no detailed account in the literature of the nature of the universals that the Aristotelian identifies musical works with. In this paper, I argue that the best version of Musical Aristotelianism identifies musical works with structural universals. I first motivate the view by outlining its explanatory benefits. I then argue that Musical Aristotelianism is preferable to Musical Platonism and present a novel account of musical works as structural universals by developing D. M. Armstrong’s theory of structural universals. I discuss the consequences of Musical Aristotelianism with respect to on-going issues in debates about musical works and defend the view against an influential objection, concluding that Musical Aristotelianism is a genuine competitor in debates about the nature of musical works.

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A. R. J. Fisher
Gonzaga University


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