Dist Prof Stephen John Davies
MA (Monash) , PhD (London)
Stephen Davies is a Distinguished Professor of Philosophy at the University of Auckland. He is an inaugural Fellow of the New Zealand Academy of the Humanities and a Fellow of the Royal Society of New Zealand. He is a former President of the American Society for Aesthetics and is currently Vice-President of the International Association for Aesthetics. He is on the editorial boards of Journal of Aesthetics and Art Criticism, Philosophy Compass, and Rivista di Estetica, he is a consulting editor for Res Musica and Philosophy of Music Education Review, and he is co-editor for aesthetics in Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy.
Stephen's research is primarily about the philosophy of the arts. He has published on literary interpretation, the definition of art, the ontological variety of artworks, expressiveness in music, the nature of performance, and the appreciative understanding of art. More recently, he has focused on the application of theories of evolution to art in discussing its origins and functions. This has led him to consider human adornment more generally: its history and many uses. Stephen has also published on Balinese music, Balinese aesthetics, the history and status of the legong dance, and the effects of tourism on indigenous cultures. And he has published bird-banding studies in journals of ornithology.
Stephen has published more than 180 peer refereed journal articles and book chapters. His sole-authored monographs are Definitions of Art (Cornell University Press, 1991), Musical Meaning and Expression (Cornell University Press, 1994), Musical Works and Performances: A Philosophical Exploration (Clarendon Press, 2001), Themes in the Philosophy of Music (Oxford University Press, 2003), Philosophical Perspectives on Art (Oxford University Press, 2007), Musical Understandings and Other Essays on the Philosophy of Music (Oxford University Press, 2011), The Artful Species: Aesthetics, Art, and Evolution (Oxford University Press, 2012), The Philosophy of Art (Wiley Blackwell, 2015, second edition) and Adornment: What self-decoration tells us about who we are, Bloomington Academic, 2020. He is the editor of Art and Its Messages: Meaning, Morality, and Society (Pennsylvania State University Press, 1997) and co-editor of Art and Essence (Praeger, 2003) and of A Companion to Aesthetics (Wiley-Blackwell, 2009, second edition). Articles and excerpts from his books have been collected or reprinted on more than thirty occasions. Four of his books have been translated into Chinese and other of his writings have been translated into Spanish, Italian, French, German, Polish, Czech, Korean, Chinese, and Persian.
Stephen's research has been funded by the University of Auckland, including a Hood Fellowship in 2007, and by universities in the United Kingdom, United States, Canada, Sweden, Portugal, Spain, Switzerland, Germany, Austria, and Australia. He has held Fellowships or temporary research appointments at University of California-Santa Barbara, University of California-San Diego, University of Maryland-College Park, and Rutgers University.
Stephen has given invited seminars or colloquia in the US at University of California-Berkeley, University of California-Santa Barbara, University of California-San Diego, San Diego State University, Stanford University, California State University-Fullerton, San Jose State University, Mt. Holyoke College, Amherst College, University of Maryland-College Park, Central Michigan University, University of Michigan-Ann Arbor, University of Illinois-Chicago, University of Wisconsin-Madison, Carleton College, Arizona State University-Tempe, University of New Mexico-Albuquerque, University of Texas-Arlington, University of Texas-Austin, Texas Tech University, Trinity University, Rice University, Tulane University, Florida State University, University of Florida-Gainseville, University of Miami, University of Colorado-Boulder, University of Indiana-Bloomington, Franklin & Marshall College, Temple University, William & Mary College, and Marquette University; in the UK at University of St. Andrews, University College, King's College, Goldsmith College, University of Hull, University of York, University of Leeds, University of Durham, University of Sheffield, University of Southampton, University of Manchester, and The Open University; in Australia at University of South Australia, Flinders University, Southern Cross University, University of Western Australia, and Macquarie University; in Canada at University of British Columbia, Victoria University, and University of Alberta; in Sweden at Uppsala University and Lund University; in Portugal at the University of Lisbon; in Switzerland at the Broucher Foundation in Geneva; in Germany at the Freie University; in Spain at Murcia University; in China at Changchun; and at other New Zealand universities.
Research | Current
- Philosophy of the arts
- Origins of art and aesthetic behaviours
- Human adornment
- Human origins and evolution
I work on the origins of art, evolution and art, and human adornment.
Hear an interview with Kathryn Ryan of RNZ None to Noon on February 10, 2020 at
Visit the blog of the adornment book at daviesadornmentbook.com
Hear a BBC interview at
DAVIES, S. Forthcoming. 'Ontological Contextualism and Cave Art.' In Art and Philosophy: New Essays at the Intersection, edited by Christy Mag Uidhir, Oxford: Oxford University Press.
DAVIES, S. Forthcoming. 'Evolution of Music.' In N. Nielsen (ed.), Oxford Handbook of Western Music and Philosophy, Oxford: Oxford University Press.
DAVIES, S. Forthcoming. "Cross-currents in Philosophical and Dance Tradition," in Engagement: Philosophy and Dance, edited by R. Farinas and C. Hanks.
DAVIES, S. Forthcoming. What a Desirable Aesthetic Education Looks Like,' in Aesthetic Literacy: A Book for Everyone, edited by V. Vinogrados, Melbourne: Open Books,
DAVIES, S. Forthcoming. 'Behavioral Modernity Reviewed,' Topoi
DAVIES, S. Forthcoming. 'Neslon Goodman on Enharmonic Notations,' Music Theory Online
DAVIES, S. Forthcoming. 'What does skin mean to you? [Interview], [kon] magazine, Munich/Berlin.
DAVIES, S. 2020. Adornment: What self-decoration tells us about who we are. London: Bloomsbury Academic. ISBN010: 13501 20987; ISBN-13: 9781350120983
RAVASIO, M. and DAVIES, S. 2020. 'Musical Universals.' In The Science and Psychology of Music: From Mozart at the Office to Metallica in the Gym, edited by W. F. Thompson and K. N. Olsen, Santa Barbara: Greenwood Press, 47-52.
DAVIES, S. 2020. 'Review of Richard Richards' The Biology of Art,' British Journal of Aesthetics, 60, 2020, 368-370.
DAVIES, S. 2020. 'Analytic Philosophy of Music.' Oxford Bibliographies in Philosophy, edited by D. Pritchard, New York: Oxford University Press. Revised. www.oxfordbibliographies.com
DAVIES, S. 2019. 'Analytic Aesthetics and Philosophy of Art.' In Cambridge History of Philosophy: 1945-2015, edited K. M. Becker, Cambridge University Press, 323-333.
DAVIES, S. 2019. 'Cosmetics and Makeup.' In On Beauty, edited by W. Huemer and I. V. Ferran, Munich: Philosophia Verlag, 393-411.
DAVIES, S. 2019. 'How Christmad Decorations Reflect our Obsession with Adornment,' New Statesman December 23
DAVIES, S. 2018. 'The Social Condition for Sustainable Technological Innovation,' in Creativity and Philosophy, edited by B. Gaut and M. Kieran, London: Routledge, 251–269.
DAVIES, S. 2018. 'Evolution, Aesthetics, and Art: An Overview.' In The Routledge Handbook of Evolution and Philosophy, edited by R. Joyce, London: Routledge, 359-371
DAVIES, S. 2018. 'Can Westerners understand the art of other cultures and what might they learn by doing so?' Journal of World Philosophies, 3 (Winter), 93–97.
DAVIES S. 2018. 'Reflections on whether a person can understand the art of another culture,' Journal of World Philosophies, 3, (Winter), 115–119.
DAVIES, S. 2018. 'Analyzing Human Adornment,' American Society for Aesthetics Newsletter, 38, No 2 Summer, 1–4.
BULLOT, N., SEELEY, W. and DAVIES, S. 2017. 'Art and science: a philosophical account of their historical complexity and co-dependence,' Journal of Aesthetics and Art Criticism 75, 453-463.
DAVIES, S. 2017. 'Music Matters: Responding to Killin, Ravasio, and Puy.' Debates in Aesthetics (DiA), 13 (1) 52–67 at http://www.debatesinaesthetics.org/archive2/music-matters/ April 2017
DAVIES, S. 2017. 'The Beautiful in Bali.' In The End of Art and the Promise of Beauty: Cross-Cultural Perspectives, edited by K. M. Higgins, S. Maira, and S. Sikka, Dordrecht: Springer, 225–236.
DAVIES, S. 2017. 'Character and Character Swapping in Mozart's Così fan tutte.' In Qusestions of Character, edited by I. Fileva, New York: Oxford University Press, 433–443.
DAVIES, S. 2017. 'Bali and the Management of Culture.' In Unsettled Boundaries, edited by C. Carter, Milwaukee: Marquette University Press, 141-153.
DAVIES, S. 2016. The Philosophy of Art. Chichester: Wiley-Blackwell, 232. Second edition. ISBN: 978-1-119-09165-3.
DAVIES, S. 2016. 'And Everything Nice.' In Body Aesthetics, edited S. Irvin, Oxford: Oxford University Press, 127–138.
DAVIES, S. 2016. 'The Artist and the Bengalese Finch,' Review of Philosophy and Psychology, 7, 715-720.
DAVIES, S. 2016. 'Aesthetics in Cross-Cultural Perspective,' Theoretical Studies in Literature and Art, 36 (1): 20-26.
DAVIES, S. 2016. 'Evolutionary Approaches to Literature.' In J. Gibson & N. Carroll (eds.), The Routledge Companion to Philosophy of Literature, London: Routledge, 137-146.
DAVIES, S. 2015. 'How Ancient is Art?' Evental Aesthetics, 4 (2), 22-45.
DAVIES, S. 2015. 'Defining Art and Artworlds,' Journal of Aesthetics and Art Criticism, 73, 375-384.
DAVIES, S. 2015. "Ellen Dissanayake’s Evolutionary Aesthetics." National Arts, 1 (January 2015): 108-115. translated into Chinese by Li, Shi-Wu.
DAVIES, S. 2014. 'Synopsis,' British Journal of Aesthetics, 54, 467-469.
DAVIES, S. 2014. 'Replies to My Critics,' British Journal of Aesthetics, 54, 493-498.
DAVIES, S. 2014. 'Art and aesthetic behaviors as possible expressions of our biologically evolved human nature,' Philosophy Compass, 9. 361-367.
DAVIES, S. 2014. 'Précis of The Artful Species, Estetika: The Central European Journal of Aesthetics, 51/7 (1), 95-97.
DAVIES, S. 2014. 'Response to Wilfried van Damme, Ellen Dissanayake, Joseph Carroll, Katja Mellmann, and Jerzy Luty,' Estetika: The Central European Journal of Aesthetics, 51/7 (1), 126-136.
DAVIES, S. 2014. 'Modest actual mentalism: questions and comments,'
Sztuka i Filozofia: Art and Philosophy, 44, 13–17.
DAVIES, S. 2014. 'L'espressione delle emozioni nella musica.' In La musica e le emozioni: percorsi nell'estetica analitica, edited and translated by Domenica Lentini. Milano: Mimesis, 65-74.
DAVIES, S. 2014. 'La risposta all'espressività musicale.' In La musica e le emozioni: percorsi nell'estetica analitica, edited and translated by Domenica Lentini. Milano: Mimesis, 75-84.
DAVIES, S. 2014. 'Musica e simboli.' In La musica e le emozioni: percorsi nell'estetica analitica, edited and translated by Domenica Lentini. Milano: Mimesis, 2014, 295-314.
DAVIES, S. 2014. 'Ontologies des oeuvres musicale.' In Ontologie Musicale: Perspectives et débats, edited by A. Arbo et M. Ruta, translated by Christiane Bourrel, Strasbourg: Hermann, 157-182.
Ch. 2. Ontologies of Musical Works from Themes in the Philosophy of Music.
DAVIES, S. 2014. 'The Aesthetics of Adornments.' In Aesthetics of Everyday Life: East and West, edited by Liu Yuedi and C. Carter, Newcastle: Cambridge Scholars, 124-132.
DAVIES, S. 2014. 'Music, Definitions of.' In W. F. Thompson (ed.), Music in the Social and Behavioral Sciences: An Encyclopedia, London: Sage Reference, Vol. 2, 723-727.
DAVIES, S. 2014. 'Authenticity. In M. Kelly (ed.), Encyclopedia of Aesthetics, Oxford: Oxford University Press, second edition, 6 volumes, Vol. 1, 240-243.
DAVIES, S. 2014. 'Emotional contagion.' In W. F. Thompson (ed.) Music in the Social and Behavioral Sciences: An Encyclopedia, London: Sage Reference, Vol. 1, 376-380.
DAVIES, S. 2014. 'Protolanguage.' In W. F. Thompson (ed.), Music in the Social and Behavioral Sciences: An Encyclopedia, London: Sage Reference, Vol. 2, 914-916.
DAVIES, S. 2014. 'Evolution.' In M. Kelly (ed.), Encyclopedia of Aesthetics, Oxford: Oxford University Press, second edition, 6 volumes, Vol. 2, 529-533.
DAVIES, S. 2014. 'Theories of art.' In M. Kelly (ed.), Encyclopedia of Aesthetics, Oxford: Oxford University Press, second edition, 6 volumes, Vol. 6, 146-153.
Teaching | Current
PHIL 212 Philosophy of the Arts
PHIL 332 Philosophy of the Arts
PHIL 732 Philosophy of the Arts 2
2014-2018 Matteo Ravassio Primary supervisor
2014-2017 Sidney Diamante Primary supervisor
2013-2017 Lin Szu-Yen Primary supervisor
2010- Bruce Sheridan Cosupervisor
Imagination, Mind, and Creativity
Areas of expertise
Philosophy of the arts
Selected publications and creative works (Research Outputs)
- Davies, S. (2012). The Artful Species: Aesthetics, Art, and Evolution (1st). Oxford, UK: Oxford University Press. Pages: 320.
- Davies, S. J. (2011). Musical Understandings and Other Essays on the Philosophy of Music. Oxford: Oxford University Press.
- Davies, S., Higgins, K., Hopkins, R., Stecker, R., & Cooper, D. E. (Eds.) (2009). A Companion to Aesthetics (Second). Malden: Wiley-Blackwell. Pages: 621.
- Davies, S. (2007). Philosophical Perspectives on Art. Oxford: Oxford University Press. Pages: 285.
- Davies, S. (2006). The Philosophy of Art. Oxford: Blackwell Publishing. Pages: 239.
- Davies, S. (2003). Themes in the Philosophy of Music. Oxford, UK: Oxford University Press. Pages: 283.
- Davies, S. (2001). Musical Work and Performances: A Philosophical Exploration. Oxford: Clarendon Press.