Is There a Way to Invoke the Music Itself Without Embarrassing Ourselves?
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The interpretation of analytical claims about music presents a dilemma between positivism and fictionalism: is it that the structures imputed by the analysis are part of the reality of "the music itself" or are the structures merely a shorthand? Although there is growing agreement that we lack direct epistemological access to the music itself, the dilemma does not disappear, in large part because we feel an ethical obligation to respect the music. We intend to "get it right" by hearing how we believe the music itself demands to be heard. This thesis adapts Simon Blackburn's quasi-realist program in meta-ethics to the ontological interpretation of music analysis. Quasi-realism allows scholars to hold that although analytical choices boil down to values, this does not prevent the expression of realist-sounding ontological claims implied by their work. The analogy with quasi-realism provides an additional motivation for further work in the ethics of music analysis.