Senior Theses

Publication Date


Document Type

Thesis (Open Access)

Degree Name

Bachelor of Arts in Philosophy



Faculty Advisor(s)

Jesús Ilundáin-Agurruza

Subject Categories

Music | Philosophy


Music can profoundly affect individuals and societies. Individuals use music to express themselves, their opinions, their worldview, their emotions, all channeled through the medium of sound. Societies use music to help give identity to their culture. Music has inspired people to take up arms for their country, or to revolt. It has gathered people of different backgrounds together under the banner of peace and of war. It has inspired people to march, it has driven them to yell, to scream, to dance, to pray, to kiss and hold, to break down and cry. Music can help people sleep, can affect their dreams, or it can keep them awake, help them be alert. With the right intention and inflection music can influence people in any number of ways.

Given this influence and power, it then follows that there should be an ethical responsibility to people when making or listening to music. What is the normative ethical role of music in society? How does one ethically participate in musical traditions? What does the opposite look like? In this paper, I will attempt to define the relation of music to society. With that relation in mind, I will then explain the responsibility that follows from participating in a musical tradition: music should be a morally enriching cultural experience.