Philosophical Studies 175 (2):503-529 (2018)

Authors
Alistair Isaac
University of Edinburgh
Abstract
Timbre is that property of a sound that distinguishes it other than pitch and loudness, for instance the distinctive sound quality of a violin or flute. While the term is obscure, the concept has played an important, implicit role in recent philosophy of sound. Philosophers have debated whether to identify sounds with properties of waves, events, or objects. Many of the intuitive considerations in this debate apply most clearly to timbre qualities. Two prominent forms of timbre physicalism have emerged: one identifying timbre with the spectral composition of proximal waves; the second identifying timbre with the mechanical vibrations at a sound source. I demonstrate that the first possibility is conceptually unsatisfying, while the second fails to meet the standards of rigor established by the color physicalism literature. One response to these worries might be to adopt a more modest, non-reductive realism about timbre, such as the ecological view of J. J. Gibson.
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DOI 10.1007/s11098-017-0880-y
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References found in this work BETA

The Ecological Approach to Visual Perception.Marc H. Bornstein - 1980 - Journal of Aesthetics and Art Criticism 39 (2):203-206.
Color Realism and Color Science.Alex Byrne & David R. Hilbert - 2003 - Behavioral and Brain Sciences 26 (1):3-21.

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Citations of this work BETA

Auditory Perception.Casey O'Callaghan - 2014 - Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy 2009.
How to Make Reflectance a Surface Property.Nicholas Danne - 2020 - Studies in History and Philosophy of Science Part B: Studies in History and Philosophy of Modern Physics 70:19-27.
The Problem of Perceptual Invariance.Alessandra Buccella - 2021 - Synthese 199 (5-6):13883-13905.

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