Electronic Theses and Dissertations

Date of Award


Document Type


Degree Name

Ph.D. in Music



First Advisor

Alan L. Spurgeon

Second Advisor

Michael Worthy

Third Advisor

Robert Westmoreland

Relational Format



Philosophical naturalism is the view that all of reality reduces to natural explanation. The resulting so-called fact-value split biases language against universal, objective values—where empirical observation is said to determine truth, while values are reduced to private emoting or socio-cultural human construction. This research questioned the definition of aesthetic value as determined by the music education as aesthetic education (MEAE) movement in the United States, and the justification of aesthetic education as a universally applicable and comprehensive approach to a course in general music/music appreciation. As the MEAE movement seems to have been largely defined by Bennett Reimer, his philosophy was assessed critically. This study investigated the historical impact of philosophical naturalism on aesthetic philosophy in general, and the potential impact of a fact-value-bias upon the value language of Bennett Reimer’s philosophy of aesthetic education in particular. It was determined that there was a noteworthy historical shift following the Enlightenment—i.e., the rise of aestheticism curiously coincided with the rise of philosophical naturalism. It was further determined that philosophical naturalism indeed seems to have influenced Bennett Reimer’s view of aesthetic value. It was concluded that non-naturalist positions must be alloto vie in the classroom, if aesthetic education is to speak comprehensively of value. Some contemporary alternatives are suggested concerning the possibilities of what a more holistic approach to aesthetic education might look like, and it is posited that the most comprehensive and inclusive approach will be a dialogical approach that uses the arts to encourage students to think critically concerning questions at the heart of inquiry into the very nature of goodness and the meaning of beauty.



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