Platonism vs. Nominalism in Contemporary Musical Ontology

Andrew Kania

in Art and Abstract Objects

Published in print January 2013 | ISBN: 9780199691494
Published online January 2013 | e-ISBN: 9780191746277 | DOI:
Platonism vs. Nominalism in Contemporary Musical Ontology

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Ontological theories of musical works fall into two broad classes, according to whether they take musical works to be abstract objects of some sort. The chapter uses the terms ‘Platonism’ and ‘nominalism’ to refer to these two kinds of theory. It first considers recent debates within Platonism about musical works—the theory that musical works are abstract objects. It then considers reasons to be suspicious of such a view, motivating a consideration of nominalist theories of musical works. The chapter argues for two conclusions: first, that there are no compelling reasons to be a nominalist about musical works in particular, i.e. that nominalism about musical works rests on arguments for thoroughgoing nominalism, and, second, that if Platonism fails, fictionalism about musical works is to be preferred to other nominalist ontologies of musical works.

Keywords: platonism; nominalism; fictionalism; art ontology; practice; descriptivism; musical works; musical performance; abstract objects

Chapter.  9414 words. 

Subjects: Aesthetics and Philosophy of Art

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