Music and Vague Existence

Res Philosophica 94 (4):437-449 (2017)
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I explain a tension between musical creationism (the view that musical works are abstract artifacts) and the view that there is no vague existence. I then suggest ways to reconcile these views. My central conclusion is that, although some versions of musical creationism imply vague existence, others do not. I discuss versions of musical creationism held by Jerrold Levinson, Simon Evnine, and Kit Fine. I also present two new versions. I close by considering whether the tension is merely an instance of a general problem raised by artifacts, both abstract and concrete. I argue that on at least one defensible account of music the tension is especially problematic for abstracta. I focus on musical works, but much of the paper straightforwardly applies to other kinds of abstract artifacts.

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David Friedell
Union College


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