Lewis, language, lust and lies

Inquiry 41 (3):301 – 315 (1998)
Abstract
David Lewis has tried to explain what it is for a possible language to be the actual language of a population in terms of his game-theoretical notion of a convention. This explanation of the actual language relation is re-evaluated in the light of some typical episodes of linguistic communication, and it is argued that speakers of a language do not generally stand in the actual language relation to that language if the actual language relation is explicated in Lewis's way. In order to avoid these counterexamples, an alternative account of the actual language relation is proposed which makes use of Lewis's notion of convention in a different way.
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