This book is a defense of modal realism; the thesis that our world is but one of a plurality of worlds, and that the individuals that inhabit our world are only a few out of all the inhabitants of all the worlds. Lewis argues that the philosophical utility of modal realism is a good reason for believing that it is true.
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.
_ 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.
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)
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.
I hear the patter of little feet around the house, I expect Bruce. What I expect is a cat, a particular cat. If I heard such a patter in another house, I might expect a cat but no particular cat. What I expect then seems to be a Meinongian incomplete cat. I expect winter, expect stormy weather, expect to shovel snow, expect fatigue---a season, a phenomenon, an activity, a state. I expect that someday mankind will inhabit at least five planets. (...) This time what I expect is a state of affairs. If we let surface grammar be our guide, the objects of expectation seem quite a miscellany. The same goes for belief, since expectation is one kind of belief. The same goes for desire: I could want Bruce, want a cat but no particular cat, want winter, want stormy weather, want to shovel snow, want fatigue, or want that someday mankind will inhabit at least five planets. The same goes for other attitudes to the extent that they consist partly of beliefs or desires or lacks thereof. But the seeming diversity of objects might be an illusion. Perhaps the objects of attitudes are uniform in category, and it is our ways of speaking elliptically about these uniform objects that are diverse. That indeed is our consensus. We mostly think that the attitudes uniformly have propositions as their objects. That is why we speak habitually of "propositional attitudes.". (shrink)
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)
It is advisable to treat some sorts of discourse about fiction with the aid of an intensional operator "in such-And-Such fiction...." the operator may appear either explicitly or tacitly. It may be analyzed in terms of similarity of worlds, As follows: "in the fiction f, A" means that a is true in those of the worlds where f is told as known fact rather than fiction that differ least from our world, Or from the belief worlds of the community in (...) which the fiction originated. (shrink)
Many years ago, C.B. Martin drew our attention to the possibility of ‘finkish’ dispositions: dispositions which, if put to the test would not be manifested, but rather would disappear. Thus if x if finkishly disposed to give response r to stimulus s, it is not so that if x were subjected to stimulus r, x would give response z; so finkish dispositions afford a counter‐example to the simplest conditional analysis of dispositions. Martin went on to suggest that finkish dispositions required (...) a theory of primitive causal powers; there, I think, he was mistaken. All that they require is an improved conditional analysis, and this improved analysis can be built upon whatever treatments of properties and of laws we may favour on other grounds. (shrink)
A collection of 13 papers by David Lewis, written on a variety of topics including causation, counterfactuals and indicative conditionals, the direction of time, subjective and objective probability, explanation, perception, free will, and rational decision. The conclusions reached include the claim that time travel is possible, that counterfactual dependence is asymmetrical, that events are properties of spatiotemporal regions, that the Prisoners’ Dilemma is a Newcomb problem, and that causation can be analyzed in terms of counterfactual dependence between events. These papers (...) can be seen as a “prolonged campaign” for a philosophical position Lewis calls “Humean supervenience,” according to which “all there is to the world is a vast mosaic of local matters of particular fact,” with all global features of the world thus supervening on the spatiotemporal arrangement of local qualities. (shrink)
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.
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)
Newcomb's problem and similar cases show the need to incorporate causal distinctions into the theory of rational decision; the usual noncausal decision theory, though simpler, does not always give the right answers. I give my own version of causal decision theory, compare it with versions offered by several other authors, and suggest that the versions have more in common than meets the eye.
What knowledge would suffice to yield an interpretation of an arbitrary utterance of a language when such knowledge is based on evidence plausibly available to a nonspeaker of that language? it is argued that it is enough to know a theory of truth for the language and that the theory satisfies tarski's 'convention t' and that it gives an optimal fit to data about sentences held true, Under specified conditions, By native speakers.