Musical works are mind-independent artifacts

Synthese 203 (1):1-28 (2023)
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Abstract

Realism about musical works is often tied to some type of Platonism. Nominalism, which posits that musical works exist and that they are concrete objects, goes with ontological realism much less often than Platonism: there is a long tradition which holds human-created objects (artifacts) to be mind-dependent. Musical Platonism leads to the well-known paradox of the impossibility of creating abstract objects, and so it has been suggested that only some form of nominalism becoming dominant in the ontology of art could cause a great change in the field and open up new possibilities. This paper aims to develop a new metaontological view starting from the widely accepted claim that musical works are created. It contends that musical works must be concrete and created objects of some sort, but, nevertheless, they are mind-independent, and we should take the revisionary methodological stance. Although musical works are artifacts, what people think about them does not determine what musical works are. Musical works are similar to natural objects in the following sense: semantic externalism applies to the term ‘musical work’ because, firstly, they possess a shared nature, and, secondly, we can be mistaken about what they are.

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Elzė Sigutė Mikalonytė
Cambridge University

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