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Music and philosophical naturalism

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posted on 2021-12-08, 13:26 authored by Killin, Anton

The philosophical and scientific explication of music is a cutting-edge field in contemporary academia. This thesis develops a naturalistic framework for theorising about music. The following novel philosophical positions are motivated and defended: a polysemy analysis of “sound”, conceptual pluralism about music, a pluralistic framework for approaching the science of music, and a fictionalist account of Western musical artworks. The adaptation/ by-product framework for couching discussion about the evolution of music is critiqued. A novel, co-evolutionary, niche construction model of the foundations of musicality and the origins, expansion and stabilisation of music is developed, couched in the general context of hominin evolution and prehistory. Conceptual and methodological reflection accompanies the evolutionary scenario developed.


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Date of Award



Te Herenga Waka—Victoria University of Wellington

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Degree Discipline


Degree Grantor

Te Herenga Waka—Victoria University of Wellington

Degree Level


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy

ANZSRC Type Of Activity code

1 Pure Basic Research

Victoria University of Wellington Item Type

Awarded Doctoral Thesis



Victoria University of Wellington School

School of History, Philosophy, Political Science and International Relations


Brock, Stuart; Sterelny, Kim