‘I understand that the world was nothing, a mechanical chaos of casual, brute enmity on which we stupidly impose our hopes and fears. I understand that, finally and absolutely, I alone exist. All the rest, I saw, is merely what pushes me, or what I push against, blindly—as blindly as all that is not myself pushes back. I create the whole universe, blink by blink. —An ugly god pitifully dying in a tree.’.
In those twenty or so pages of section xi of Part Two of the Philosophical Investigations in which Wittgenstein discusses the concept of noticing an aspect and its place among the concepts of experience, there are three passages which are explicitly concerned with the relations between seeing and interpreting in the experience of noticing an aspect.
In 1901 Russell had envisaged the new analytic philosophy as uniquely systematic, borrowing the methods of science and mathematics. A century later, have Russell’s hopes become reality? David Lewis is often celebrated as a great systematic metaphysician, his influence proof that we live in a heyday of systematic philosophy. But, we argue, this common belief is misguided: Lewis was not a systematic philosopher, and he didn’t want to be. Although some aspects of his philosophy are systematic, mainly his (...) pluriverse of possible worlds and its many applications, that systematicity was due to the influence of his teacher Quine, who really was an heir to Russell. Drawing upon Lewis’s posthumous papers and his correspondence as well as the published record, we show that Lewis’s non- Quinean influences, including G.E. Moore and D.M. Armstrong, led Lewis to an anti- systematic methodology which leaves each philosopher’s views and starting points to his or her own personal conscience. (shrink)
Many contemporary philosophers accept Hume's Dictum, 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 ---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 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 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)
This paper provides an overview on David Lewis's writings about persistence. I focus on two issues. First, what is the relationship between the doctrine of Humean Supervenience and the rejection of endurantism? Second, why did Lewis not adopt a stage theory of persistence, given that he advocated a counterpart theory of modality?
El artículo propone una interpretación de la obra literaria "Las Crónicas de Narnia" del autor ingles C. S Lewis. Tal interpretación posibilita considerar la alegoría religiosa que esta obra literaria realiza sobre la experiencia de la divinidad a través de la figura del León.
Many writers have held that in his later work, David Lewis adopted a theory of predicate meaning such that the meaning of a predicate is the most natural property that is (mostly) consistent with the way the predicate is used. That orthodox interpretation is shared by both supporters and critics of Lewis's theory of meaning, but it has recently been strongly criticised by Wolfgang Schwarz. In this paper, I accept many of Schwarze's criticisms of the orthodox interpretation, and (...) add some more. But I also argue that the orthodox interpretation has a grain of truth in it, and seeing that helps us appreciate the strength of Lewis's late theory of meaning. (shrink)
An odd dissensus between confident metaphysicians and neopragmatist antimetaphysicians pervades early twenty-first century analytic philosophy. Each faction is convinced their side has won the day, but both are mistaken about the philosophical legacy of the twentieth century. More historical awareness is needed to overcome the current dissensus. Lewis and his possible-world system are lionised by metaphysicians; Quine’s pragmatist scruples about heavy-duty metaphysics inspire antimetaphysicians. But Lewis developed his system under the influence of his teacher Quine, inheriting from him (...) his empiricism, his physicalism, his metaontology, and, I will show in this paper, also his Humeanism. Using published as well as never-before-seen unpublished sources, I will make apparent that both heavy-duty metaphysicians and neopragmatist antimetaphysicians are wrong about the roles Quine and Lewis played in the development of twentieth-century philosophy. The two are much more alike than is commonly supposed, and Quine much more instrumental to the pedigree of current metaphysics. (shrink)
David Lewis defends the following "non-circular definition of personhood": "something is a continuant person if and only if it is a maximal R-interrelated aggregate of person-stages. That is: if and only if it is an aggregate of person-stages, each of which is R-related to all the rest (and to itself), and it is a proper part of no other such aggregate." I give a counterexample, involving a person who is a part of another, much larger person, with a separate (...) mental life. I then offer an easy repair, which preserves the virtues of Lewis's definition without introducing any new vices. (shrink)
This paper concerns connection between knowing or accepting a logical principle such as Modus Ponens and actions of reasoning involving it. Discussions of this connection typically mention the so-called ‘Lewis Carroll Regress’ and there is near consensus that the regress shows something important about it. Also, although the regress explicitly concerns logic, many philosophers think that it establishes a more general truth, about the structurally similar connection between epistemic or practical principles and actions involving them. This paper’s first aim (...) is to address key interpretations Carroll’s regress as clearly as possible so as to show precisely how it might be relevant to questions concerning the connection between logical knowledge and reasoning, and, more broadly, to discussions of how epistemic or practical principles may be action-guiding. Its second aim is to show that the regress fails to establish anything of substance about the connection between logical knowledge and reasoning, or any other structurally similar relation, unless substantive, contentious and typically undefended assumptions are made. The consensus is thus on shaky ground. (shrink)
In _A Companion to David Lewis_, Barry Loewer and Jonathan Schaffer bring together top philosophers to explain, discuss, and critically extend Lewis's seminal work in original ways. Students and scholars will discover the underlying themes and complex interconnections woven through the diverse range of his work in metaphysics, philosophy of language, logic, epistemology, philosophy of science, philosophy of mind, ethics, and aesthetics. The first and only comprehensive study of the work of David Lewis, one of the most systematic (...) and influential philosophers of the latter half of the 20th century Contributions shed light on the underlying themes and complex interconnections woven through Lewis's work across his enormous range of influence, including metaphysics, language, logic, epistemology, science, mind, ethics, and aesthetics Outstanding Lewis scholars and leading philosophers working in the fields Lewis influenced explain, discuss, and critically extend Lewis's work in original ways An essential resource for students and researchers across analytic philosophy that covers the major themes of Lewis's work. (shrink)
In two curiously neglected papers, David Lewis claims to reduce to absurdity the supposition (commonly labeled DAB) that (some) desires are belief-like. My aim in this paper is to explain the significance of this claim and rebut the proof.
The development of symbolic logic is often presented in terms of a cumulative story of consecutive innovations that led to what is known as modern logic. This narrative hides the difficulties that this new logic faced at first, which shaped its history. Indeed, negative reactions to the emergence of the new logic in the second half of the nineteenth century were numerous and we study here one case, namely logic at Oxford, where one finds Lewis Carroll, a mathematical teacher (...) who promoted symbolic logic, and John Cook Wilson, the Wykeham Professor of Logic who notoriously opposed it. An analysis of their disputes on the topic of logical symbolism shows that their opposition was not as sharp as it might look at first, as Cook Wilson was not so much opposed to the « symbolic » character of logic, but the intrusion of mathematics and what he perceived to be the futility of some of its problems, for logicians and philosophers alike. (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)
David Lewis’s arguments against magical ersatzism are notoriously puzzling. Untangling different strands in those arguments is useful for bringing out what he thought was wrong with not just one style of theory about possible worlds, but with much of the contemporary metaphysics of abstract objects. After setting out what I take Lewis’s arguments to be and how best to resist them, I consider the application of those arguments to general theories of properties and relations. The constraints Lewis (...) motivates turn out to yield an argument for concretism about possible individuals that is quite different from the better-known Lewisian arguments for that position. The discussion also touches on the puzzling question of whether things are the way they are because of the properties they have, or are the properties and relations the way they are because of the things that have them. (shrink)
The status of the knowledge iteration principles in the account provided by Lewis in “Elusive Knowledge” is disputed. By distinguishing carefully between what in the account describes the contribution of the attributor’s context and what describes the contribution of the subject’s situation, we can resolve this dispute in favour of Holliday’s claim that the iteration principles are rendered invalid. However, that is not the end of the story. For Lewis’s account still predicts that counterexamples to the negative iteration (...) principle ) come out as elusive: such counterexamples can occur only in possibilities which the attributors of knowledge are ignoring. This consequence is more defensible than it might look at first sight. (shrink)
The early David Lewis was a staunch critic of the Truthmaker Principle. To endorse the principle, he argued, is to accept that states of affairs are truthmakers for contingent predications. But states of affairs violate Hume's prohibition of necessary connections between distinct existences. So Lewis offered to replace the Truthmaker Principle with the weaker principle that ‘truth supervenes upon being’. This chapter argues that even this principle violates Hume's prohibition. Later Lewis came to ‘withdraw’ his doubts about (...) the Truthmaker Principle, invoking counterpart theory to show how it is possible to respect the principle whilst admitting only things that do not violate Hume's prohibition. What this really reveals is that the Truthmaker Principle is no explanatory advance on the supervenience principle. Extending Lewis's use of counterpart theory also allows us to explain away the necessary connections that threatened to undermine his earlier statements of supervenience. (shrink)
I have two aims in this paper. In §§2-4 I contend that Moore has two arguments (not one) for the view that that ‘good’ denotes a non-natural property not to be identified with the naturalistic properties of science and common sense (or, for that matter, the more exotic properties posited by metaphysicians and theologians). The first argument, the Barren Tautology Argument (or the BTA), is derived, via Sidgwick, from a long tradition of anti-naturalist polemic. But the second argument, the Open (...) Question Argument proper (or the OQA), seems to have been Moore’s own invention and was probably devised to deal with naturalistic theories, such as Russell’s, which are immune to the Barren Tautology Argument. The OQA is valid and not (as Frankena (1939) has alleged) question-begging. Moreover, if its premises were true, it would have disposed of the desire-to-desire theory. But as I explain in §5, from 1970 onwards, two key premises of the OQA were successively called into question, the one because philosophers came to believe in synthetic identities between properties and the other because it led to the Paradox of Analysis. By 1989 a philosopher like Lewis could put forward precisely the kind of theory that Moore professed to have refuted with a clean intellectual conscience. However, in §§6-8 I shall argue that all is not lost for the OQA. I first press an objection to the desire-to-desire theory derived from Kripke’s famous epistemic argument. On reflection this argument looks uncannily like the OQA. But the premise on which it relies is weaker than the one that betrayed Moore by leading to the Paradox of Analysis. This suggests three conclusions: 1) that the desire-to-desire theory is false; 2) that the OQA can be revived, albeit in a modified form; and 3) that the revived OQA poses a serious threat to what might be called semantic naturalism. (shrink)
Clarence I. Lewis (1883-1964) delineated the structure of mind based on his “conceptual pragmatism.” Human mind grounds itself on the ongoing dynamic interaction of relational processes, which is essentially mediated and structural. Lewis’s pragmatism anchors itself on the theory of knowledge that has the triadic structure of the given or immediate data, interpretation, and the concept. Lewis takes the a priori given as a starting point of meaningful experience. The interpretative work of mind is the mediator of (...) the a priori given and the concepts. The a priori given is the principle that determines the application of concepts in our interpretative process. Our mind interprets the given in relating to other possible experience. In other words, the meaning of the a priori given is determined by mind, the subject of interpretative process, which performs constructive and legislative activity, and allows room for the existence of alternatives. Lewis’s theory of knowledge calls for pragmatic justification of value experience. In his ethical theory, Lewis pursues to find answers for how to build up the objectivity of value experience regarding the work of mind as conceptual apparatus. For Lewis, knowledge is a claim about valuation and normativity. In our value experience, the normative significance of our empirical assessments for action comprises objective significance for future experience. Mind is “principle- content apparatus” composed of imperatives as the a priori given principles and the contents of experience as a whole.Imperatives are the result of lessons accumulated from the past and function as rules for the future. Individuals start their experience from imperatives and organize their own experience by doing based on the inferential process, which is directional from the past to the future. (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.
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)
David Lewis objected to theories that posit necessary connections between distinct entities and to theories that involve a magical grasping of their primitives. In On the Plurality of Worlds, Lewis objected to nondescript ersatzism on these grounds. The literature contains several reconstructions of Lewis’ critique of nondescript ersatzism but none of these interpretations adequately address his main argument because they fail to see that Lewis’ critique is based on broader methodological considerations. I argue that a closer (...) look at his methodology reveals the broader objection he presented against nondescript ersatzism. This objection, I further argue, remains a challenge for the ersatzer who posits structure-less entities as possible worlds. (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)
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 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)
Helen Beebee has recently argued that David Lewis’s account of compatibilism, so-called local miracle compatibilism, 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)
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)