Repeatable Artworks and the Relevant Similarity Relation

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Repeatable artworks, such as novels and musical works, have often been construed as universals whose instances are particular printings or performances. In Art and Art-Attempts, Christy Mag Uidhir offers a nominalist account of repeatable artworks, eschewing talk of universals. Mag Uidhir argues that all artworks are concrete, and artworks that we regard as repeatable are simply unified by a relevant similarity relation: we use the name Beloved to refer to two concrete printed novels because they are relevantly similar to each other and to certain other printings that are the product of Toni Morrison’s art-attempt. I discuss two potential difficulties for Mag Uidhir’s notion of relevant similarity: a difficulty related to appropriation, and a difficulty related to the fact that musical performances are often the product of distinct art-attempts by the composer and by the performer. I suggest that both difficulties could be addressed by enriching the notion of relevant similarity by appeal to the artist’s specification of which similarities are essential for two works to count as relevantly similar.
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First archival date: 2021-12-23
Latest version: 2 (2021-12-23)
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