Nick Zangwill

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Nick Zangwill
EducationLondon University (PhD)
Era21st century Philosophy
RegionWestern philosophy
InstitutionsUniversity College London, The University of Hull, and Lincoln University
Main interests
aesthetics, metaphysics, epistemology, philosophy of mind, philosophy of logic, and Meta-ethics

Nick Zangwill is a British philosopher and honorary research professor at University College London and Lincoln University.[1] He is known for his expertise on moral philosophy, especially metaethics, aesthetics, especially the philosophy of music and visual art.[2]

He has also written on metaphysics, epistemology, the philosophy of mind and logic.


In metaethics, Zangwill has defended non-naturalism, with a special attention to dependence of moral on natural properties. He has defended externalism about moral motivation, developed aspects of expressivism, and defended non-consequentialist theory.

In aesthetics, Zangwill has defined his position as 'moderate formalism' in art as referring to those properties "that are determined solely by sensory or physical properties—so long as the physical properties in question are not relations to other things and other times."[3] The philosopher and architect Branko Mitrovic has defined formalism in art and architecture as "the doctrine that states that the aesthetic qualities of works of visual art derive from the visual and spatial properties."[4]

Philosophy of Music[edit]

In the 21st century, philosophers such as Nick Zangwill have extended the study of aesthetics in music, as studied in the 20th century by scholars such as Jerrold Levinson and Peter Kivy. In his 2015 book on the aesthetics of music titled Music and Aesthetic Reality: Formalism and the Limits of Description, Zangwill introduces his realist position by stating, "By 'realism' about musical experience, I mean a view that foregrounds the aesthetic properties of music and our experience of these properties: musical experience is an awareness of an array of sounds and of the aesthetic properties that they determine. Our experience is directed onto the sound structure and its aesthetic properties. This is the content of musical experience."[5]

Philosophy of Mind[edit]

Zangwill defends a particular 'weak' version of the idea that the mental is essentially normative as well as the anomalism of the mental.

Philosophy of Logic[edit]

Zangwill defends realism about logic and relentlessly and remorselessly attacks inferentialism.


  • The Metaphysics of Beauty (Cornell UP, 2001)
  • Aesthetic Creation (Oxford UP, 2007)
  • Music and Aesthetic Reality: Formalism and the Limits of Description (Routledge, 2015)
  • Scruton's Aesthetics (ed., with Andy Hamilton) (Palgrave Macmillan, 2012)


  1. ^ "Nick Zangwill". The Murphy Institute. Retrieved 17 December 2018.
  2. ^ Nathan, Daniel (2009). "On Zangwill's aesthetic theory of art". Sztuka I Filozofia. 35. Retrieved 17 December 2018.
  3. ^ Nick Zangwill, The Metaphysics of Beauty (Ithaca, NY: Cornell University Press, 2001), p. 56, ISBN 0801438209.
  4. ^ Branko Mitrović, Philosophy for architects (New York: Princeton Architectural Press, [2011]), p. 51.
  5. ^ Nick Zangwill. Music and Aesthetic Reality: Formalism and the Limits of Description. Page 14. 2015.

External links[edit]