Multiple Instances and Multiple 'Instances'

British Journal of Aesthetics 50 (4):411-426 (2010)
The distinction between singular and multiple artworks is usually drawn modally in terms of the notion of an ‘instance’ of a work. Singular works, it is claimed, can only have a single instance, whereas multiple works allow of more than one instance. But this is enlightening only if we have a clear idea of what is meant by an ‘instance’. I argue that there are two different notions of a work's ‘instances’ in play in the literature – what I term its ‘provenential instances’ (‘P-instances’) and its ‘purely epistemic instances’ (E-instances). I further argue that these notions are conflated in the literature critical of Gregory Currie's ‘instance multiplicity hypothesis’ (IMH) – the claim that all artworks are multiple in nature. I defend a modified version of the IMH as a claim about a work's E-instances against a range of criticisms
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DOI 10.1093/aesthj/ayq030
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