Monday, December 17, 2012

It's deadline day, and no one has submitted a paper yet. I'm just saying, that's all.

Thursday, December 13, 2012


Yesterday, we listened to a bit of Miles Davis's "If I Were a Bell" from Live at the Plugged Nickel. Many people who are unversed in late post-bop, will claim that "it all sounds the same" while others will be able to recognize aesthetic variation in performances from the genre. I just Youtubed some Dillinger Escape Plan, which many might find inaccessible, although I must admit that it seemed poppy to me. I did like the video of "Milk Lizard."

So, let's go to music that is really on the edge. Person 1 is familiar with a certain genre or style, while person 2 isn't. Think about their respective phenomenologies. In general, for instance, will person 1 be able to attribute a full range of aesthetic qualities to the genre in question? Can there be (relatively) lyrical and serene death metal? Does person 1 have to know or even be aware of more facts than Person 2 while listening? What does "Getting it" involve? I'm just throwing off some ideas here, but I am really interested in questions like this. Any thoughts? Any other potentially relevant questions?

Tuesday, December 4, 2012



DUE: MONDAY, DECEMBER 18, 2012, but feel free to hand in your paper earlier so that I can get a head-start on the grading.

LENGTH: Feel free to make this paper a bit longer than six pages, especially if you haven’t written a longer paper yet. However, never ramble and never lose track of where you are, where you’ve been and where you want to go. Also please remember that my eyes glaze over when I encounter spaghetti structure and/or a parade of cryptic sentences. Chris’s eyes never glaze over, so save the horrible papers for him. 

TOPICS: Those of you who are comfortable to do so may write  on any topic that we’ve discussed this term, especially if it’s one of the topics we’ve discussed in the last few weeks. For those who would like a bit more guidance, here are some suggestions.

1) Tillman’s endurantism. Find a problem and see if it can be solved.

2) Kania’s Ontology of rock music as presented in “Making Tracks”. Find a problem and see if it can be solved. When I think about Kania’s theory I keep coming back to 1)  the nature and centrality for his position of the concept of manifestation and to 2) his account of covers. In addition, I worry about the analogy he draws between film remakes and  cover versions.

3) We really haven’t talked much of the ontology of songs. Kania discusses songs and their relations to tracks. According to Kania, the central works of rock music are tracks, not songs. You could explore a specific or a general question. An example of a specific question would be this: do Kania’s arguments against songs as works succeed? An example of a general question would be this: what are songs? How are they individuated? What is their role and centrality to an ontology of music? Of course, the general question  is huge. It constitutes an extended program of research. A paper on it would have to be pretty long and even then you’d only be making the first few moves in a treatment of the topic. Nevertheless, I find the topic to be fascinating.

4) Take a look at Kania’s refutation of Young and Matheson in “All work and No Play.” SAVE JIM AND CARL!!!

Friday, November 30, 2012

Tuesday, November 27, 2012

Musical Materialism

I thought I'd post a link to 'Musical Materialism' and also a paper I wrote with Joshua Spencer, 'Musical Materialism and the Inheritance Problem' (it's short) since the plan is to start with some of that stuff for next time. The papers can be found here: (I believe library access is required to get to them.) Please bring questions, comments, objections or new arguments in favor (one can hope!) for next time.

Sunday, November 18, 2012

Love and Music

This post probably would have been more helpful a month ago... Levinson explores the relationship between music and love. For those of you who love PhilBites like I do:

Thursday, November 15, 2012

Alterenate second paper topic


Next week, we'll discuss Levinson's performance means criterion as laid out in section III of  What a Musical Work Is.". Take a look at his discussion of Beethoven's Hammerklavier sonata in subsection (a) of section III. Then look at Kivy's criticism of Levinson on the Hammerklavier, p. 88-90 of "Orchestrating Platonism," and Levinson's reply to Kivy on p. 240-241 of "What a Musical Work is Again." I want us to come up with a good recap of the exchange.

Now, here's a paper topic that comes out of the discussion we'll have. If you're wrirting on fine individuation, you don't have to write on this.:

Levinson's Hammerklavier argument for the performance means criterion commits him to the position that any performance of the Hammerklavier is on a historically accurate fortepiano (and not on the piano). Discuss, with attention to the exchange between Kivy and Levinson on Hammerklavier.

Try to be as concise as possible. Stick to the point. Use quotations to show that you've intepreted L and K correctly. Feel free to use our discussion of the topic in class. Due Friday November 24.

Tuesday, November 13, 2012


The VW date is this Wednesday. If you have concerns, email me or come see me before class.

Thursday, November 8, 2012


Here's a paper topic. I'll provide an alternate topic within a few days. I'll also get Rosa to photocopy Kivy's "Orchestrating Platonism" (publisheed in his anthology, The Fine Art of Repetition) By, the way, if any of you find the Kivy paper online, please blog how we can access it. The Kivy paper is directly relevant to the alternate paper-topic. I hope to finish up Levinson's IND condition next week and at least make a start on PER (the performance means constraint). The Kivy paper concerns PER.

A few of the papers handed in a couple of weeks ago were too long. Some of you tried to present fairly ambitious theses justified by fairly long and complicated chains of argument, with the results that i) your arguments for the individual bits didn't hold together and ii) you lost control of the large-scale structure of your paper. Therefore, I want you to scale back for this paper. Keep the length to six pages at most. Also, bear in mind that a treatment of the following question depends more on small-scale tactics than big-picture theoretical narrative. When you present someone's view, make absolutely sure that you back your interpretations up with quotations, some of which only need to be a few words long. If you're unclear about what I want, email me or talk to me. Let's set a due date of Tuesday, November 20.

Topic: In "Fine Individuation," Matheson and Caplan argue that Levinson's IND condition is unstable. Present Levinson's case for IND and then present  M&C's argument that it is unstable. Respond to M&C.

Wednesday, November 7, 2012

John Frusciante is the old guitarist from the Red Hot Chili Peppers (I'm not a huge fan of the Peppers, but he has some great solo stuff, I think). Anyways, I don't think he really offers much new insight, but insofar as he is a man who has dedicated his life to "creating" music and holds that all he is doing is discovering.. well, it bodes well with me. He's a bit of a rambler; speaking is certainly not his strong point, but I think he has some interesting things to say.

Watch from 2:25 to about 5:00.

Monday, November 5, 2012

Also, check out:

Can a Musical Work Be Created? Caplan, Ben, Matheson, Carl. British Journal of Aesthetics, 44(2), 113-134, 22 p. April 2004. Abstract Available (AN PHL1780092


Fine Individuation Matheson, Carl, Caplan, Ben. British Journal of Aesthetics, 47(2), 113-137, 25 p. April 2007.

Both are evailable. BTW, I don't know what's going on with the italics.

Friday, November 2, 2012


I left papers with Rosa for you to pick up:

Jerrold Levinson: What a Musical Work Is, Again
Peter Kivy: Platonism in Music: A Kind of Defence

Also, read the following, which are evailable:

Levinson: What a Musical Work Is
Kivy: Platonism in Music: Another Kind of Defence

Sorry for the tardiness. Please tell others who might not be checking out the blog very often! It would be good for everyone to have picked the papers up before the weekend.

Tuesday, October 30, 2012

"I've been doing a lot of abstract painting lately, really abstract. No brush, no paint, no canvas. I just think about it" --Steven Wright

(As an editorial note: I think it is very telling that this comment was intended as a joke)

Thursday, October 25, 2012

OK, I'm sensing rebellious sentiments concerning the nickname thing. So Horsehalf doesn't want to be called "Horsehalf" anymore? He wants to be called "Justin?" That's too bad, because he has a great backstory as a pop-culturally dated but savvy foreign exchange student from Mongolia: catchphrase, "Hey Dude, where's my yurt?" Justin, I'll meet you halfway. I won't call you "Horsehalf" any longer... Princess Tippytoes. The rest of you beware.

Sunday, October 14, 2012

Full versions of the most unwanted music:

and most wanted music:

ENJOY! Come to think of it, I was in a band named "Shilo" back when I was at Dal. It was not good, despite the fact that we absolutely killed at the Porter's lake Legion Hall.The band's business card gave an idea of its quality: "Dance, Listen, and enjoy to the sounds of Shilo." I was also in a country band named "Whiskey River." I was kicked out for being able to read music. Although these bands did not feature a soprano rapper, they were not good.

On Tuesday I'd like to finish our discussion concerning the restoration of artworks. I hope that we get around to discussing, among other things, the claim that artworks are the direct bearers of their aesthetic/artistic properties. I also hope that we can begin our discussion of conceptual art. Here's an article that considers when conceptual artworks should be restored:

The Artist's Sanction in Contemporary Art
Authors:Irvin, Sherri
Source: Journal of Aesthetics and Art Criticism, 63(4), 315-326. 12 p. FALL 2005.

Here is an introduction to the philosophy of conceptual art:

I'll hand out some additional material by the author of the above article in class.
Also, read this:
In particular examine its list of notable conceptual artwork. Do the artworks on the list conform to the SEP article's characterrization of conceptual art?
For instance, think about "The People's Choice" section of this:
and this:

and this;

Those of you unfamiliar with philosophical debates concerning the definition of art might find this helpful:

Saturday, October 13, 2012

By the way, if any of you want to discuss the thoughts you're developing for your paper (regardless of topic) feel free. Discussion could be a good source of new relevant ideas for you. Of course, your paper will have to largely consist of your own thoughts on the topic.

Some of you may feel that the topic I've provided for the first paper fails to provide enough direction for you. Here's another, more specific topic.

Sagoff (beginning on p. 463) asserts the existence of a useful analogy between the appreciation of an artwork and love for another person. Wilsmore (Section 2 of "Authenticity and Restoration") criticizes Sagoff's analogy. Provide and support your evaluation of the analogy. In doing so, consider the exchange between Sagoff and Wilsmore.

4-6 pages. Due Thursday October 18. However, since I've only assigned this topic today, take a couple of extra days if you need to. 

Saturday, October 6, 2012


We'll start discussing the restoration of artworks this coming Tuesday. In a previous post, I assigned papers by Carrier and Sagoff. Also, take a look at the following:

British Journal of Aesthetics, Vol. 26, No } , Summer 1986
S. J. Wilsmore
Journal of Aesthetic and Art Criticism 51:3 Summer 1993
The Rationale of Restoration
Anthony Savile
The Wilsmore paper consists mainly of a reply to Sagoff. The Savile paper compares tensed and untensed features of artworks.
The following topic might be fun to write on:
Neither restoration nor willful mutilation affect the aesthetic properties of a painting or sculpture. Discuss. In doing so you may want to consider whether even the destruction of an artwork affects its aesthetic properties.
Write four to six pages on this. We'll talk a bit about it in class so that you won't be approaching it in a vacuum. You can write a slightly longer paper as long as you remain concise and to the point. Don't ramble or go off on tangents. Due Friday. October 19. Feel absolutely free to hand your paper in before the due date.
Within the next couple of days. I'll post another less interesting topic for those of you who find the generality of this topic a bit imposing.


Saturday, September 29, 2012

People made a lot of moves on Tuesday, so I thought it might be good idea to do a bit of a recap.

We mainly talked about the 4D-ist's treatment of the statue/clay problem. Remember that in our original example, Lump began to exist years ago and will continue to exist for many more years. Angel was molded at noon and squished at 6 p.m.One of the theories we discussed was cohabitation theory, a form of 2-ism according to which Lump and Angel are distinct obects that share exactly the same matter and occupy exactly the same spatial region from noon until 6 pm. However, Lump and Angel's distinctness is attested to by their different historical (time of creation/destruction) and modal (e.g., squishability vs. non-squishability) properties. Those who think that modal properties are grounded in physics-y properties will be troubled by the apparent fact that Angel and Lump differ in their modal properties despite possessing exactly the same physics-y properties. They may have to accept the existence of brute modal properties. In addiiton, since statue and lump are not the only possible sortals that apply to our case -- but just the ones for which we have common English descriptors -- we may feel forced to accept gazillionism (not just 2-ism) where many many coincident objects co-exist from noon until 6 pm, distinguished only by their brute modal properties. Check out the very nice discussion of matters related to this stemming from the previous post by  Damian.

 The 4D-ist enters here to say that if we view Lump and Angel as 4D temporally extended objects then Angel and Lump are clearly distinct. Lump has Angel as a proper part. Angel and Lump share their temporal parts from Noon until 6 pm, but Lump has (and Angel does not) parts outside of the noon - 6 pm interval. Now that seems to account for the historical properties involved in the case we've discussed so far. However, suppose that Lump and Angel came into existence at noon and went out of existence at 6 pm -- via a Lumpl/Goliath scenario (See Wasserman for a description of Lumpl/Goliath) or via the spontaneous creation/destruction of matter. In this case, it seems that we would still want to say that Lump and Angel are distinct objects even though they share exactly the same 4D parts. Haven't we just raised the same problem for 4D-ism that had earlier been raised for Cohabitation theory. Must the 4D-ist accept brute modality to the extent that the 3D-ist does? Why or why not? Does the 4D-ist have tools in her toolbox that the 3D-ist doesn't?

Wednesday, September 26, 2012

Tuesday, September 25, 2012

Modal Properties, Grounding, 2-ism

OK, this my attempt at clarifying the disagreement between Justin and me, as well as presenting the argument for my position:

2-ism (or one account of it, anyway) states that 2 objects can be distinct even if they share all the same parts and occupy the same space. For example, Lump and Angel share all the same parts and occupy the same space, yet they are two distinct objects. Furthermore, 2 objects can also be distinct even if they share the same historical properties, as long as they differ in other (e.g. modal) properties: Lumpl and Goliath are different objects even if they were both created and destroyed at the same time. For the sake of simplicity, I'll concern myself with the latter case (where all physical and historical properties are shared by the two objects), but this can probably be extended to the former case as well.

Grounding Problems:
The grounding worry is as follows:
       (1) Physical properties fully ground all modal properties
       (2) If (1), then objects that share all the same physical properties share the same modal properties.

       (3) So, objects that share all the same physical properties share the same modal properties ((1), (2))
       (4) If (3), then if Lumpl and Goliath share all the same physical properties, then Lumpl and Goliath share all the same modal properties.
       (5) So, if Lumpl and Goliath share all the same physical properties, then Lumpl and Goliath share all the same modal properties ((3), (4))
       (6) Lumpl and Goliath share all the same physical properties.
       (7) So, Lumpl and Goliath share all the same modal properties ((5), (6))
       (8) If Lumpl and Goliath share all the same modal properties, then the 2-ist explanation fails.
       (9) So, the 2-ist explanation fails ((7), (8))

Quick defense of the premises:
(1) seems like a natural way of thinking of modal properties: the way an object is (physically) will determine the kinds of things the object can be/do.

(2) just expresses the thought that if a fully grounds b, then objects that are identical in terms of a will be identical in terms of b.

(4) is just an example of (2) in action.

(6) is just true by hypothesis. The reason I use Lumpl and Goliath instead of Lump and Angel is to prevent accusations that causal-historical properties count as part of the physical properties of an object: in this case, the causal-historical properties of the two objects are identical as well as all the other physical properties.

(8) is justified as follows: the 2-ist argues that Lumpl and Goliath are different objects because they have different modal properties. (8) just claims that if Lumpl and Goliath don't have different modal properties, then they are not different objects.

Justin's Move:
It seems like the most plausible premise to deny is (1), which is exactly what Justin did. Justin had an argument for his denial of (1), which goes as follows.

Define Fragility1 as: x is fragile iff it can be shattered by being hit.
Define Fragility2 as: x is fragile iff it can be destroyed by being hit.

       (10) if physical properties fully ground all modal properties, then physical properties fully ground both Fragility1 and Fragility2.
       (11) if physical properties fully ground Fragility2, then in a debate about whether objects can be destroyed by shattering the physical properties could act as evidence for one view over the other.
       (12) It is not the case that in a debate about whether objects can be destroyed by shattering the physical properties could act as evidence for one view over the other.
       (13) So, it is not the case that physical properties fully ground Fragility2. ((11), (12))
       (14) So, it is not the case that physical properties fully ground modal properties ((10), (13))

I won't bother defending the premises, since that is not actually my concern (someone else is free to challenge them). Suppose we take the conclusion of the argument, and accept that (1) has been plausibly denied. We still have the grounding question: if physical properties don't fully ground modal properties, what does? We could just say that modal properties are brute, but Justin has another way out which might be a little better.

Justin proposed that what grounds the modal properties of something might be the type of thing it is. In other words, Lumpl is the type of thing lump, which includes the modal property of being able to survive squishing ('squishability'). Goliath is the type of thing statue which does not include the modal property of being able to survive squishing ('non-squishability'). Problem solved?

Another Grounding Problem:
Suppose that what grounds the modal property of non-squishability that Goliath has is the sortal property statue. What, then, grounds the sort statue? We can't say that it is physical properties, since Lumpl shares all its physical properties with Goliath. So if physical properties grounded the sort statue, then Lumpl would be a statue, and thus have all the same modal properties that Goliath has (which would in turn entail that the 2-ist is wrong by premise (8)). Maybe the way here would be to say that sortal properties like statue are brute. This is not to concede defeat to the original argument: maybe these sortal properties are less mysterious than modal properties. Whatever view we take, we had better not accept:

       (15) Physical properties fully ground all sortal properties.

Even though the 2-ist is forced to reject (15), it seems strange to say that sortal properties such as statue are not grounded at all in physical properties. So the end result might look like:

       (16) Sortal properties fully ground modal properties.
       (17) (Physical properties and x) fully ground sortal properties. 
Where x is something interesting Justin says in response to this post.
As we approach the topic of the extent to which objects can lose and gain parts over time, it might be useful for you to read up a bit on the Ship of Theseus. The following papers are old, yet fun, short and informative. We'll (at most) barely touch on them tomorrow.They are all e-available:

How to Reidentify the Ship of Theseus
Brian Smart  Analysis, Vol. 32, No. 5. (Apr., 1972), pp. 145-148.
Smart on Conditions of Identity

Lawrence H. Davis Analysis, Vol. 33, No. 3. (Jan., 1973), pp. 109-110.
How Not to Reidentify the Parthenon

Francis W. DauerAnalysis Vol. 33, No. 2. (Dec., 1972), pp. 63-64.
The Ship of Theseus, the Parthenon and Disassembled Objects

Brian Smart Analysis Vol. 34, No. 1. (Oct., 1973), pp. 24-27.
I'm sorry about the messy formatting. I tried to copy and paste from the front page of the PDFs. Mistakes were made.

Friday, September 21, 2012

Just Matter and Personhood

In our last class, Shawn brought up a possible objection to the Just Matter theory which goes more or less as follows:

  1. If Just Matter theory is true, then 'person' is a phase sortal.
  2. If 'person' is a phase sortal, then we cannot make sense of our obligations and responsibilities towards other persons.
  3. But we can make sense of our obligations and responsibilities towards other persons
  4. Therefore, Just Matter theory is false.
I am curious about what you guys think of this objection, specifically premise 2. While in class, we did not give many reasons for thinking that 2 is true, but we also did not give any reasons for thinking that 2 is false. Here's one:

      5.   'child' is a phase sortal.
      6.   We can make sense of our responsibilities towards children.
      7.   if 5 and 6, then 2 is false
      8.   Therefore, 2 is false.

Hopefully 5 and 6 are uncontroversial, so here's a defense of 7: it seems that any explanation of our responsibilities towards people insofar as they are children will allow for the fact that having the phase sortal 'child' entails having certain responsibilities towards them. But it seems like an analogous case can be made for 'persons' as phase sortal. Just like, insofar as something is a child, there are special responsibilities we must have towards them, it seems like insofar as something is a person, we can have special responsibilities towards them. There doesn't seem to be anything about the phase sortal 'person' that differentiates it from the phase sortal 'child' unless we assume that 'person' is not a phase sortal. But this would be to beg the question against the Just Matter theory.

Of course, there might be special reasons for thinking that 'person' couldn't be a phase sortal, but I see no principled reason for denying this. Any thoughts?

Thursday, September 20, 2012

After we "finish" our discussion of the statue and the clay. We'll take up the extent to which an object can change over time and yet continue to exist. We'll apply some of the basic theoretical work to the subject of art restoration. Check the next few posts for suggested readings.

Here's one on art restoration that has been extensively discussed:
On Restoring and Reproducing Art Author(s): Mark Sagoff Source: The Journal of Philosophy, Vol. 75, No. 9 (Sep., 1978), pp. 453-470
Unless indicated otherwise, the papers listed on the blog are electronically available.
Another very useful paper on restoration is this:
Art and Its PreservationAuthor(s): David Carrier. Source: The Journal of Aesthetics and Art Criticism, Vol. 43, No. 3 (Spring, 1985), pp. 291-300
I'd like to just send you PDFs. In a recent ruling, The Supreme Court of Canada seems to have functionally expanded what counts as the fair use of texts for educational and research purposes, but I'm going to play things safe for now. Consequently, you'll have to go to the e-library to download your own PDFs.
I'll post some suggestions for papers on the Ship of Theseus paper soon.
Remember: feel free to use this blog as a medium for conducting fuller discussions of what we talked about in class.

Sunday, September 16, 2012

Welcome to the Blog for Philosophy 4460, an Ontology of Art Seminar being offered during the fall of 2012 at The University of Manitoba. I'm Carl Matheson, the instructor for the course.In this blog I'll let you know of the papers that I've assigned you to read and of the topics for the papers you'll be expected to write. The blog will, I hope, mainly provide us with an avenue for conducting discussions between classes. Please feel free to try out ideas. arguments and critiques. And, of course, play nice.

Next week's (September 18) class will concern the relationship between a given statue and the clay from which it is molded. I have already assigned the chapter on constitution from Conee and Sider's Riddles of Existence and have distributed copies of the chapter in class. Let me know if you don't have a copy. I'd also like you to read Ryan Wasserman's wonderful entry on material constitution in The Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy: I realize that I'm assigning a fairly long paper only two days before class, but please try to find time to at least give it a quick read before Tuesday. It goes far beyond what is presented in Riddles. Because we'll be discussing an issue at the heart of metaphysics,we'll only be able to scratch the surface, but I hope that we'll come away with a decent rough map.