Hume's Dictum and metaphysical modality: Lewis's combinatorialism

In Barry Loewer & Jonathan Schaffer (eds.), The Blackwell Companion to David Lewis. Blackwell 138-158 (2015)
Many contemporary philosophers accept Hume's Dictum (HD), according to which there are no metaphysically necessary connections between distinct, intrinsically typed entities. Tacit in Lewis's work is a potential motivation for HD, according to which one should accept HD as presupposed by the best account of the range of metaphysical possibilities---namely, a combinatorial account, applied to spatiotemporal fundamentalia. Here I elucidate and assess this Ludovician motivation for HD. After refining HD and surveying its key, recurrent role in Lewis’s work, I present Lewis’s appeal to HD as providing a broadly axiomatic generating basis for the space of metaphysical modality, and canvas the prima facie advantages of the resulting combinatorial principle---HD (L-combinatorialism)---as being principled, extensionally adequate and modally reductive. Most criticisms of Lewis's combinatorialism have targeted seeming ways in which the theory overgenerates the desired space; I rather argue that HD (L-combinatorialism) seriously undergenerates the desired space in three different ways. For each way I argue that available means of overcoming the undergeneration either fail to close the gap, undermine the claim that HD (L-combinatorialism) is a principled generator of metaphysical modal space, undermine the reductive status of Lewis's combinatorialism, or call into question the truth of HD.
Keywords David Lewis  combinatorial account of modality  metaphysical modality  metaphysical possibility necessity  Hume  Hume's dictum  combinatorialism  necessary connections  Humeanism
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