Date of Award

Fall 12-11-2012

Degree Type


Degree Name

Master of Arts (MA)



First Advisor

Dr. Jessica N. Berry

Second Advisor

Dr. Steve Jacobson

Third Advisor

Dr. Andrea Scarantino


Within the past few decades the topic of musical meaning in the case of absolute music has received increasingly greater attention in the philosophical communities. One discussion is a debate between Constantijn Koopman and Stephen Davies, on the one side, and Peter Kivy, on the other. In this paper, I argue that many of the features of the musical encounter captured in terms of meaning by Koopman & Davies’ position are better addressed in terms of value. On Kivy’s suggestions, I contend we avoid use of the term ‘meaning’. To wit, I extend a conceptual framework for aesthetic value, advocated elsewhere by Thomas Kulka, to make the case that absolute music has the kinds of value that explain our tendency to ascribe ‘meaning’ to it, and that absolute music is valuable in multiple philosophically relevant ways, even if not meaningful in any.