The Role of Teleological Thinking in Judgments of Persistence of Musical Works

Journal of Aesthetics and Art Criticism 80 (1):42-57 (2022)
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Abstract

In his article “The Ontology of Musical Versions: Introducing the Hypothesis of Nested Types,” Nemesio Puy raises a hypothesis that continuity of the purpose is both a necessary and a sufficient condition for musical work’s identity. Puy’s hypothesis is relevant to two topics in cognitive psychology and experimental philosophy. The first topic is the prevalence of teleological reasoning about various objects and its influence on persistence and categorization judgments. The second one is the importance of an artist’s intention in the categorization of artworks. We tested the teleological hypothesis across three studies. Vignettes in these three studies describe a musical work being changed in some of these aspects: purpose either changed or retained; score either changed or retained; change is made either by the same or a different composer. The results suggest that teleological considerations impact judgments on the persistence of musical works, but this impact appears to be relatively weak. The results also suggest that persistence judgments strongly depend on whether acoustical properties were changed, while whether the change was made by the original composer seems to be relatively unimportant.

Author Profiles

Elzė Sigutė Mikalonytė
Cambridge University
Vilius Dranseika
Jagiellonian University

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