In a recent blogg, MissUnderstodd asks the above question. I have noted that artists go to several years of education before. They learn a lot of techniques, aestetics, mechanisms and so on, so they know that to obtain a certain effect, they need to proceed in a certain way.
So do software developers. So yes, I think software development is comparable to the work of an artist. You know what you want to obtain, you know the rules for getting there and there is a lot of freedom for artistic work in between.