What counts as "a" sound and how "to count" a sound, the problems of individuating and identifying sounds

Synthesis Philosophica 1 (67):173-190 (2019)
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This paper addresses the problem of sound individuation (SI) and its connection to sound ontology (SO). It is argued that the problems of SI, such as aspatiality, extreme individuation, indexical perplexity and duration puzzles are due to SO’s uncertainties. Besides, I describe the views in SO, including the wave view (WV), the property view (PV), and the event view (EV), as Casey O’Callaghan defends it. According to O’Callaghan, EV offers clear standards to individuate sounds. However, this claim is countered by the consideration that any view could also defend the standards in SO, and thus, EV does not solve any of the problems mentioned above. As a way of showing the difficulties inherited by sound’s inner ontology, the problem of its linguistic representation is also addressed. The problem of SI can be developed within the frame of the philosophy of language and, specifically, regarding the discussion about mass vs count-­sortal terms. Is the term sound a mass or a count­-sortal? It is shown that, for reasons pertaining SO, the decision regarding the case of sound as a mass or count-­sortal term remains open. SI is, thus, covered from the SO to the philosophy of language.

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Jorge Luis Méndez-Martínez
National Research University Higher School of Economics


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