In this paper, I investigate the prospects for using the distinction between rejection and denial to resolve Saul Kripke’s puzzle about belief. One puzzle Kripke presents in A Puzzle About Belief poses what would have seemed a fairly straightforward question about the beliefs of the bilingual Pierre, who is disposed to sincerely and reflectively assent to the French sentence Londres est jolie , but not to the English sentence London is pretty , both of which he understands perfectly well. The (...) question to be answered is whether Pierre believes that London is pretty, and Kripke argues, of each answer, that it is unacceptable. On my proposal, either answer to the question is to be rejected, but neither answer is to be denied, using the resource of partially-defined predicates. After demonstrating how this serves as a solution to the puzzle, I illustrate some philosophical motivations—independent of Kripke’s puzzle—for adopting a view on which belief is a partially defined predicate. I conclude that there are decent prospects for the proposed response to Kripke’s puzzle. (shrink)
In his Essays on the Intellectual Powers of Man, Thomas Reid offers a barrage of objections to the view, held by David Hume, that conceivability implies possibility. In this paper, I present Reid's first two objections to the ‘maxim of conceivability’ and defend Hume from them. The first objection concerns our ability to understand impossible claims, while the second concerns thoughts about impossible claims (such as, for instance, the thought that they are impossible). Reid's objections have special force against Hume (...) because of his commitment to analyse all operations of the understanding in terms of conception. I argue that these objections fail, on the grounds that they presuppose substantive views about language which we are not warranted in attributing to Hume. Ultimately, Reid's objections help us draw out a set of intertwined issues about the language-mind relationship in Hume. (shrink)
I insist that I was able to raise my hand, and I acknowledge that a law would have been broken had I done so, but I deny that I am therefore able to break a law. To uphold my instance of soft determinism, I need not claim any incredible powers. To uphold the compatibilism that I actually believe, I need not claim that such powers are even possible. My incompatibilist opponent is a creature of fiction, but he has his prototypes (...) in real life. He is modeled partly after Peter van Inwagen and partly on myself when I first worried about van Inwagen's argument against compatibilism. (shrink)
David Lewis (1941-2001) was Class of 1943 University Professor of Philosophy at Princeton University. His contributions spanned philosophical logic, philosophy of language, philosophy of mind, philosophy of science, metaphysics, and epistemology. In On the Plurality of Worlds, he defended his challenging metaphysical position, "modal realism." He was also the author of the books Convention, Counterfactuals, Parts of Classes, and several volumes of collected papers.
Tn this paper I explore and to an extent defend HS. The main philosophical challenges to HS come from philosophical views that say that nomic concepts-laws, chance, and causation-denote features of the world that fail to supervene on non-nomic features. Lewis rejects these views and has labored mightily to construct HS accounts of nomic concepts. His account of laws is fundamental to his program, since his accounts of the other nomic notions rely on it. Recently, a number of philosophers (...) have criticized Lewis's account, and Humean accounts of laws generally, for delivering, at best, a pale imitation ofthe genuine item. These philosophers think that the notion of law needed by science requires laws-if there are any-to be fundamental features of our world that are completely distinct from and not supervenient on the particular facts that they explain. I side with Lewis against these philosophers. Here I will argue that although Lewis-laws don't fulfill all our philosophical expectations, they do play the roles that science needs laws to play. The metaphysics and epistemology of Humean laws, and more specifically, Lewis-laws, are in much better shape than the metaphysics and epistemology of the main anti-Humean alternatives. However, I do have inisgivings about Lewis's account. Both he and his critics assume that the basic properties are so individuated so that the laws are not metaphysically necessary. If this assumption is rejected, then the question of Humean supervenience lapses. I conclude with a brief discussion of this position. (shrink)
Several alleged counterexamples to the definition of 'intrinsic' proposed in Rae Langton and David Lewis, 'Defining "Intrinsic"', are unconvincing. Yet there are reasons for dissatisfaction, and room for improvement. One desirable change is to raise the standard of non-disjunctiveness, thereby putting less burden on contentious judgements of comparative naturalness. A second is to deal with spurious independence by throwing out just the disjunctive troublemakers, instead of throwing out disjunctive properties wholesale, and afterward reinstating those impeccably intrinsic disjunctive properties that (...) are not troublemakers. (The second of these changes makes the first more affordable.) A third, suggested by Brian Weatherson, would be to invoke the general principle that the intrinsic and the extrinsic characters of things are independent, rather than relying just on one special case of this principle; but it is none too obvious how to do this. (shrink)
This is the second volume of philosophical essays by one of the most innovative and influential philosophers now writing in English. Containing thirteen papers in all, the book includes both new essays and previously published papers, some of them with extensive new postscripts reflecting Lewis's current thinking. The papers in Volume II focus on causation and several other closely related topics, including counterfactual and indicative conditionals, the direction of time, subjective and objective probability, causation, explanation, perception, free will, and (...) rational decision. Throughout, Lewis analyzes global features of the world in such a way as to show that they might turn out to supervene on the spatiotemporal arrangement of local qualities. (shrink)
Counterfactuals is David Lewis' forceful presentation of and sustained argument for a particular view about propositions which express contrary to fact conditionals, including his famous defense of realism about possible worlds and his theory of laws of nature.
This volume is devoted to Lewis's work in metaphysics and epistemology. Topics covered include properties, ontology, possibility, truthmaking, probability, the mind-body problem, vision, belief, and knowledge. The purpose of this collection, and the volumes that precede and follow it, is to disseminate more widely the work of an eminent and influential contemporary philosopher. The volume will serve as a useful work of reference for teachers and students of philosophy.
From Descartes to Hume, philosophers in the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries developed a dialectic of radically conflicting claims about the nature of the self. In the Paralogisms of The Critique of Pure Reason, Kant comes to terms with this dialectic and with the character of the experiencing self. In this study, Powell seeks to elucidate these difficult texts, showing that the structure of the Paralogisms provides an essential key to understanding both Kant's critique of "rational psychology" and his theory (...) of self-consciousness. As Kant realized, the ways in which we must represent ourselves to ourselves have import not only for epistemology, but for our view of persons and of our own immortality, as well as for moral philosophy. His theory of self-consciousness is also shown to have implications for contemporary discussions of the problem of other minds, functionalism, and the problem of indexical self-reference. (shrink)
This is the first of a three-volume collection of David Lewis's most recent papers in all the areas to which he has made significant contributions. The purpose of this collection (and the two volumes to follow) is to disseminate even more widely the work of a preeminent and influential late twentieth-century philosopher. The papers are now offered in a readily accessible format. This first volume is devoted to Lewis's work on philosophical logic from the last twenty-five years. The (...) topics covered include: deploying the methods of formal semantics from artificial formalised languages to natural languages, model-theoretic investigations of intensional logic, contradiction, relevance, the differences between analog and digital representation, and questions arising from the construction of ambitious formalised philosophical systems. The volume will serve as an important reference tool for all philosophers and their students. (shrink)
This book takes up the central themes of Aristotle's metaphysical theory and the various transformations they undergo prior to their full expression in the Metaphysics. Aristotle's metaphysics is bedevilled by classic puzzles involving such notions as form, predication, universal, and substance, which result from his attempt to adapt the various requirements on primary substance developed in his earlier works so that they fit the very different metaphysical picture in his later work. Professor Lewis argues that Aristotle is himself aware (...) of most if not all of these difficulties and in the Metaphysics works hard to ensure the coherence of his theory. He presents Aristotle's views as a formal theory complete with axioms, definitions, and theorems. (shrink)
This volume is devoted to Lewis's work in ethics and social philosophy. Topics covered include the logic of obligation and permission; decision theory and its relation to the idea that beliefs might play the motivating role of desires; a subjectivist analysis of value; dilemmas in virtue ethics; the problem of evil; problems about self-prediction; social coordination, linguistic and otherwise; alleged duties to rescue distant strangers; toleration as a tacit treaty; nuclear warfare; and punishment. This collection, and the two preceding (...) volumes, will disseminate more widely the work of an eminent and influential contemporary philosopher. (shrink)
Cicero may be best known as a politician, but he was also one of the few significant Roman writers of philosophy. Powell presents a new and exciting selection of current scholarly work on this neglected side of him, establishing Cicero firmly as a serious philosophical writer of continuing importance and relevance.
_ Convention_ was immediately recognized as a major contribution to the subject and its significance has remained undiminished since its first publication in 1969. Lewis analyzes social conventions as regularities in the resolution of recurring coordination problems-situations characterized by interdependent decision processes in which common interests are at stake. Conventions are contrasted with other kinds of regularity, and conventions governing systems of communication are given special attention.
Heidegger Beyond Deconstruction argues that Heidegger's question of being cannot be separated from the question of nature and culture, and that the history of being describes the growing predominance of culture and technology over nature, resulting in today's environmental crisis. It proposes that we turn to Heidegger's thought in order fully to understand this crisis. In doing so it is necessary to retrieve those elements of his thought which are most maligned by Derridean deconstruction: the pastoral, the homely, the local. (...) In a world coming to terms with the destructive nature of ‘globalisation' and the networks of distribution and travel which lacerate the globe, we are witnessing a gradual return to the ‘locally produced', the ‘organic', the ‘micro-generation' of energy unplugged from the national and international grid: in other words, a return to the ‘near'. The necessities and problems inherent in this return, which the ‘environmental movement' must address, are already to be found in Heidegger's thought. Lewis confronts this thought with that of Lacan, Levinas, Žižek, and Marx in order to reinvent the element to which deconstruction usually confines it and bring it into a position from which to confront the most pressing ethical and political questions of today. (shrink)
Realism and metaphysics.--Ultimates and a way of looking.--Religion and the paranormal.--Quinton, A., Lewis, H. D., Williams, B. Life after death.--Lewis, H. D., Flew, A. Survival.--Shoemaker, S., Lewis, H. D. Immortality and dualism.--The belief in life after death.--The person of Christ.
C. S. Lewis takes us on a profound journey through both heaven and hell in this engaging allegorical tale. Using his extraordinary descriptive powers, Lewis introduces us to supernatural beings who will change the way we think about good and evil.
Derrida is one of those annoying geniuses you can take a class on, read half-a-dozen books by and still have no idea what he’s talking about. Derrida’s ‘writing’ is definitely confusing (it’s like he’s pulling the rug out from under the rug that he pulled out from under philosophy). But beneath the confusion, like the heartbeat of a bird in your hand, you can feel Derrida’s electric genius. It draws you to it; you want to understand it…but it’s so confusing. (...) Jim Powell’s Derrida For Beginners is the clearest explanation of Derrida and deconstruction presently available in our solar system. Powell guides us through blindingly obscure texts like Grammatology (Derrida’s deconstruction of Saussure, Le;vi Strauss, Roussseau), “Diffe;rance” (his essay on language and life), Dissemination (his dismantling of Plato, his rap on Mallarme;), along with his other masterpieces. (shrink)
The spiritual rewards and intellectual challenges of Eastern philosophy are revealed in this visually stunning book, illustrated by Joe Lee and with 19th-century engravings. Eastern philosophy is not only an intellectual pursuit, but one that involves one’s entire being. Much of it is so deeply entwined with the non-intellectual art of meditation, that the two are impossible to separate. In this survey of the major philosophies of India, China, Tibet and Japan, Jim Powell draws upon his knowledge of Sanskrit (...) and Chinese, as well as decades of meditation. Whether tackling Buddha, Confucius, Lao Tzu, Dogen, the Dalai Lama or Patanjal–Powell’s insights are deeply illuminating. All the major philosophies of India, China, Tibet and Japan are explained and everyone, from beginner to expert, will find Eastern Philosophy For Beginners an insightful overview. (shrink)
If you are like most people, you’re not sure what Postmodernism is. And if this were like most books on the subject, it probably wouldn’t tell you. Besides what a few grumpy critics claim, Postmodernism is not a bunch of meaningless intellectual mind games. On the contrary, it is a reaction to the most profound spiritual and philosophical crises of our time–the failure of the Enlightenment. Jim Powell takes the position that Postmodernism is a series of “maps” that help (...) people find their way through a changing world. Postmodernism For Beginners features the thoughts of Foucault on power and knowledge, Jameson on mapping the postmodern, Baudrillard on the media, Harvey on time-space compression, Derrida on deconstruction and Deleuze and Guattari on rhizomes. The book also discusses postmodern artifacts such as Madonna, cyberpunk sci-fi, Buddhist ecology and teledildonics. (shrink)
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. (shrink)
David Lewis's book 'On the Plurality of Worlds' mounts an extended defense of the thesis of modal realism, that the world we inhabit the entire cosmos of which we are a part is but one of a vast plurality of worlds, or cosmoi, all causally and spatiotemporally isolated from one another. The purpose of this article is to provide an accessible summary of the main positions and arguments in Lewis's book.
David Lewis's account of intentionality is a version of what he calls 'global descriptivism'. The rough idea is that the correct interpretation of one's total theory is the one (among the admissible interpretations) that come closest to making it true. I give an exposition of this account, as I understand it, and try to bring out some of its consequences. I argue that there is a tension between Lewis's global descriptivism and his rejection of a linguistic account of (...) the intentionality of thought. I distinguish some different senses in which Lewis's theory might permit, or be committed to, a kind of holism about intentional content, and I consider the sense in which Lewis's account might be said to be an internalist account, and the motivation for this kind of internalism. (shrink)
A major criticism of David Lewis’ counterfactual theory of causation is that it allows too many things to count as causes, especially since Lewis allows, in addition to events, absences to be causes as well. Peter Menzies has advanced this concern under the title “the problem of profligate causation.” In this paper, I argue that the problem of profligate causation provides resources for exposing a tension between Lewis’ acceptance of absence causation and his modal realism. The result (...) is a different problem of profligate causation—one that attacks the internal consistency of Lewisian metaphysics rather than employing common sense judgments or intuitions that conflict with Lewis’ extensive list of causes. (shrink)
In “What Puzzling Pierre Does not Believe”, Lewis (, 412‐4) argues that the sentences (1) Pierre believes that London is pretty and (2) Pierre believes that London is not pretty both truly describe Kripke’s well‐known situation involving puzzling Pierre (). Lewis also argues that this situation is not one according to which Pierre believes either the proposition (actually) expressed by (3) London is pretty or the proposition (actually) expressed by (4) London is not pretty. These claims, Lewis (...) suggests, provide a starting point from which a correct resolution of Kripke’s puzzles about belief () can be developed. At the end of his paper (, p. 414‐7), Lewis considers and replies to a number of potential objections to his position. According to one of these, Lewis’s contentions regarding (1)‐(4) cannot all be true because ‘believes that’ and ‘believes the proposition that’ are synonymous. Although the objection Lewis considers is unsound and his response to it correct, a minor variant of that objection provides significant reason to be skeptical of his contentions. This variant, moreover, is not persuasively addressed by anything either Lewis or any other well‐known defender of this sort of view (such as Stalnaker ) has had to say on the matter. All of this is relevant, moreover, not 2 only when it comes to assessing Lewis’s contentions regarding (1)‐ (4), but also when it comes to drawing lessons from certain standard objections to the view that the propositional objects of belief and assertion are sets of metaphysically possible worlds. (shrink)
It is often argued that the great quantity of evil in our world makes God’s existence less likely than a lesser quantity would, and this, presumably, because the probability that some evils are gratuitous increases as the overall quantity of evil increases. Often, an additive approach to quantifying evil is employed in such arguments. In this paper, we examine C. S. Lewis’ objection to the additive approach, arguing that although he is correct to reject this approach, there is a (...) sense in which he underestimates the quantity of pain. However, the quantity of pain in that sense does not significantly increase the probability that some pain is gratuitous. Therefore, the quantitative argument likely fails. (shrink)
I argue for the claim that if Lewis’s regularity theory of laws were true, we could not know any positive law statement to be true. Premise 1: According to that theory, for any law statement true of the actual world, there is always a nearby world where the law statement is false (a world that differs with respect to one matter of particular fact). Premise 2: One cannot know a proposition to be true if it is false in a (...) nearby world (the epistemological safety principle). The conclusion that no law statement can be known to be true follows immediately from the two premises. (shrink)
This paper examines a promising probabilistic theory of singular causation developed by David Lewis. I argue that Lewis' theory must be made more sophisticated to deal with certain counterexamples involving pre-emption. These counterexamples appear to show that in the usual case singular causation requires an unbroken causal process to link cause with effect. I propose a new probabilistic account of singular causation, within the framework developed by Lewis, which captures this intuition.
Helen Beebee has recently argued that David Lewis’s account of compatibilism, so-called local miracle compatibilism (LMC), allows for the possibility that agents in deterministic worlds have the ability to break or cause the breaking of a law of nature. Because Lewis’s LMC allows for this consequence, Beebee claims that LMC is untenable and subsequently that Lewis’s criticism of van Inwagen’s Consequence Argument for incompatibilism is substantially weakened. I review Beebee’s argument against Lewis’s thesis and argue (...) that Beebee has not refuted LMC and concomitantly has not demonstrated that Lewis’s criticism of the Consequence Argument fails. (shrink)
David Lewis claims that his theory of modality successfully reduces modal items to nonmodal items. This essay will clarify this claim and argue that it is true. This is largely an exercise within ‘Ludovician Polycosmology’: I hope to show that a certain intuitive resistance to the reduction and a set of related objections misunderstand the nature of the Ludovician project. But these results are of broad interest since they show that would-be reductionists have more formidable argumentative resources than is (...) often thought. Lewis’s reduction depends on a set of methodological commitments each of which is fairly plausible or at least currently popular, and none of which is particular to modality. The choice of which of these commitments to reject I leave to the discerning antireductionist. The essay proceeds as follows: §1 discusses reduction generally and one or two relevant puzzles; §2 discusses Lewis’s reduction in particular; the longest section, §3 replies to four objections. (shrink)
In his metaphysical summa of 1986, The Plurality of Worlds, David Lewis famously defends a doctrine he calls ‘modal realism’, the idea that to account for the fact that some things are possible and some things are necessary we must postulate an infinity possible worlds, concrete entities like our own universe, but cut off from us in space and time. Possible worlds are required to account for the facts of modality without assuming that modality is primitive – that there (...) are irreducibly modal facts. We argue that on one reading, Lewis’s theory licenses us to assume maverick possible worlds which spread through logical space gobbling up all the rest. Because they exclude alternatives, these worlds result in contradictions, since different spread worlds are incompatible with one another. Plainly Lewis’s theory must be amended to exclude these excluders. But, we maintain, this cannot be done without bringing in modal primitives. And once we admit modal primitives, bang goes the rationale for Lewis’s modal realism. (shrink)
In a survey of his views in the philosophy of mind, David Lewis criticizes much recent work in the field by attacking an imaginary opponent, Strawman. His case against Strawman focuses on four central theses which Lewis takes to be widely accepted among contemporary philosophers of mind. These theses concerns (1) the language of thought hypothesis and its relation to folk psychology, (2) narrow content, (3) de se content, and (4) rationality. We respond to Lewis, arguing (among (...) other things) that he underestimates Strawman’s theoretical resources in a variety of important ways. (shrink)
My aim is to rekindle interest in David Lewis's (1983) infamous but neglected Mixed Theory of mental states. The Mixed Theory is a mix of physicalism and functionalism designed to capture the intuitions that both Martians and abnormal human Madmen can be in pain. The Mixed Theory is widely derided. But I offer a new development of the Mixed Theory immune to its most prominent objections. In doing so, I uncover a new motivation for the Mixed Theory: its unique (...) ability to explain cases in which it is plausibly indeterminate whether something is in pain. The Mixed Theory, whether or not it is ultimately correct, at least deserves renewed attention. (shrink)
David lewis has argued that--Despite the 'fission' cases--One may consistently hold both that what matters in survival is "mental continuity and connectedness" and that what matters in survival is identity. To prove his point, He produces a certain theory of persons. Derek parfit and penelope maddy have objected that the theory lewis produces does not actually have the advantages he claims for it. In this paper, The author questions their objections, And then argues that, Even though lewis's (...) theory has many virtues, No sufficiently knowledgeable person can be justified in accepting it (here and now) as an adequate theory of persons. (shrink)
C I Lewis showed up Down Under in 2005, in e-mails initiated by Allen Hazen of Melbourne. Their topic was the system Hazen called FL (a Funny Logic), axiomatized in passing in Lewis 1921. I show that FL is the system MEN of material equivalence with negation. But negation plays no special role in MEN. Symbolizing equivalence with → and defining ∼A inferentially as A→f, the theorems of MEN are just those of the underlying theory ME of pure (...) material equivalence. This accords with the treatment of negation in the Abelian l-group logic A of Meyer and Slaney (Abelian logic. Abstract, Journal of Symbolic Logic 46, 425–426, 1981), which also defines ∼A inferentially with no special conditions on f. The paper then concentrates on the pure implicational part AI of A, the simple logic of Abelian groups. The integers Z were known to be characteristic for AI, with every non-theorem B refutable mod some Zn for finite n. Noted here is that AI is pre-tabular, having the Scroggs property that every proper extension SI of AI, closed under substitution and detachment, has some finite Zn as its characteristic matrix. In particular FL is the extension for which n = 2 (Lewis, The structure of logic and its relation to other systems. The Journal of Philosophy 18, 505–516, 1921; Meyer and Slaney, Abelian logic. Abstract. Journal of Symbolic Logic 46, 425–426, 1981; This is an abstract of the much longer paper finally published in 1989 in G. G. Priest, R. Routley and J. Norman, eds., Paraconsistent logic: essays on the inconsistent, Philosophica Verlag, Munich, pp. 245–288, 1989). (shrink)
This paper examines a special kind of social preference, namely a preference to do one's part in a mixed-motive setting because the other party expects one to do so. I understand this expectation-based preference as a basic reactive attitude (Strawson 1974). Given this, and the fact that expectations in these circumstances are likely to be based on other people's preferences, I argue that in cooperation a special kind of equilibrium ensues, which I call a loop, with people's preferences and expectations (...) mutually cross-referring. As with a Lewis-norm, the loop can get started in a variety of ways. It is self-sustaining in the sense that people with social preferences have sufficient reason not to deviate. (shrink)
In this paper we investigate nonnormal modal systems in the vicinity of the Lewis system S1. It might be claimed that Lewis's modal systems (S1, S2, S3, S4, and S5) are the starting point of modern modal logics. However, our interests in the Lewis systems and their relatives are not (merely) historical. They possess certain syntactical features and their frames certain structural properties that are of interest to us. Our starting point is not S1, but a weaker (...) logic S1 (S1 without the schema [T]). We extend it to S1D, which can be considered as a deontic counterpart of the alethic S1. Soundness and completeness of these systems are then demonstrated within a prenormal idiom. We conclude with some philosophical remarks on the interpretation of our deontic logic. (shrink)
Consider a cat on a mat. On the one hand, there seems to be just one cat, but on the other there seem to be many things with as good a claim as anything in the vicinity to being a cat. Hence, the problem of the many. In his ‘Many, but Almost One,’ David Lewis offered two solutions. According to the first, only one of the many is indeed a cat, although it is indeterminate exactly which one. According to (...) the second, the many are all cats, but they are almost identical to each other, and hence they are almost one. For Lewis, the two solutions do not compete with each other but are mutually complementary, as each one can assist the other. This paper has two aims: to give some reasons against the first of these two solutions, but then to defend the second as a self-standing solution from Lewis’s considerations to the contrary. (shrink)