Metaphysics of Abstract Artifacts: A New Reading Group at Boğaziçi on Mondays
I am starting a new reading group on the metaphysics of abstract artifacts. Some objects such as musical works, novels, fictional characters, computer programs do not seem to fit the traditional ontological categories of either concrete or abstract. The distinction between these two categories is usually drawn on account of whether having or lacking spatiotemporal location, or causal efficacy. I call these objects abstract artifacts. Abstract artifacts, if they exist, seem to be created by composers/authors/programmers, etc. and thus have a beginning in time, yet they seem to be abstract objects of some kind (since they lack spatial location, or they are multiply realizable and/or repeatable). However, abstract objects are presumably causally inert; they cannot push or pull things. If creation entails being caused to exist, then it seems that the abstract objects in question cannot be created. Hence, it seems we have to give up on one of the above claims about abstract artifacts. This is often referred to as the paradox of standards.
We will begin our discussion trying to answer the question how we solve this puzzle. In this reading group, we will start with a basic ontological framework in which the questions and alternative proposal are construed, and then move on to more difficult questions about the nature of abstract artifacts. Most of our discussions will focus on the ontology of works of art but we will keep in mind the possibility that whatever we say about works of art might shed some light on different kinds of abstract artifacts: linguistic entities such as letters, words, languages, computer programs and, perhaps, scientific theorems.
The reading group will be meeting on Mondays (starting from Monday, Feb 27) from 5:15 to 7 pm at JF (John Freely Hall) 507, Bogazici University South Campus. Everyone is welcome.
If you want to join our email list, please email Ozcan Karabag at firstname.lastname@example.org.
This reading group is organized as part of Nurbay Irmak’s BAP project “Concept Pluralism and Artifactual Theory of Language” (10321).