There are No Things That are Musical Works

British Journal of Aesthetics 48 (3):295-314 (2008)
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Abstract

Works of music do not appear to be concrete objects; but they do appear to be created by composers, and abstract objects do not seem to be the kind of things that can be created. In this paper I aim to develop an ontological position that lets us salvage the creativity intuition without either adopting an ontology of created abstracta or identifying musical works with concreta. I will argue that there are no musical works in our ontology, but nevertheless the English sentences we want to hold true are literally true. I rely on a meta-ontological view whereby ‘a exists’ can be true without committing us to an entity that is a. This meta-ontological view is illustrated by its application to the familiar example of the statue and the clay. I argue that my account of musical ontology fares better on the balance of costs and benefits than its rivals

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Ross Cameron
University of Virginia

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