This article will compare and contrast two very different accounts of convention: the game-theoretical account of Lewis in Convention, and the account initially proposed by Margaret Gilbert (the present author) in chapter six of On Social Facts, and further elaborated here. Gilbert’s account is not a variant of Lewis’s. It was arrived at in part as the result of a detailed critique of Lewis’s account in relation to a central everyday concept of a social convention. (...) An account of convention need not be judged by that standard. Perhaps it reveals the nature of an important phenomenon. Looked at in that light, these very different accounts are not incompatible. Indeed, neither should be ignored if one is seeking to understand the way in which human beings arrive at some degree of social order. (shrink)
In this last of our selection of papers from the London Medical Group Conference on Pain, GilbertLewis, through his experiences of living in New Guinea describes to us the various rites, rituals and uses of pain in societies other than our own. He outlines, by example, how what often seems the natural behaviour to us for helping a sufferer in fact, can make matters far worse for other peoples. Although different societies approach the problem of pain from (...) many routes the aim of all is to relieve pain for the sufferers. If the sufferer says he feels relief then that is surely what counts. (shrink)
This book offers original accounts of a number of central social phenomena, many of which have received little if any prior philosophical attention. These phenomena include social groups, group languages, acting together, collective belief, mutual recognition, and social convention. In the course of developing her analyses Gilbert discusses the work of Emile Durkheim, Georg Simmel, Max Weber, David Lewis, among others.
The editor's introduction discusses Clarence I. Lewis's conceptual pragmatism when compared with post-empiricist epistemology and argues that several Cartesian assumptions play a major role in the work, not unlike those of Logical Positivism. The suggestion is made that the Cartesian legacy still hidden in Logical Positivism turns out to be a rather heavy ballast for Lewis’s project of restructuring epistemology in a pragmatist key. More in detail, the sore point is the nature of inter-subjectivity. For Lewis, no (...) less than for the Logical Positivists at the time of the Protocols Controversy and Husserl in the Cartesian Meditations, this is a problem without a solution. The reason is that all these philosophers are apparently unable to realize that the existence of a plurality of knowing subjects cannot be treated at once both as a speculative problem and a methodological one. Lewis, thanks to his pragmatist approach both comes closer to the right answer and offers an even more naïve unsatisfactory solution to the pseudo-problem under discussion. The fact that he has clear in mind that inter-subjectivity means not only a plurality of linguistic utterances but also a co-existence of different kinds of practical behaviour. Eventually, the very idea of mind, the key-idea in the book, suffers from the above mentioned tension. In fact, if inter-subjective communication and action is considered at a methodological level, the very idea of mind would not need an analysis, and no kind of ‘reflexive’ analysis. Methodology might be limited to a ‘naïve’ level where the existence of the world and a plurality of subjects be taken as a bedrock of uncritically accepted evidence. Philosophical reflection on ultimate evidence, instead, would take a different approach, maybe the one Wittgenstein was putting into practice in the same years when Mind and the world order was written, namely it would be bound to question the very meaning of the idea of ‘mind’ as an undue fiction – the same carried out by Descartes – when he assumed the Cogito to be at once a body of self-evident truths and a thing or substance, the familiar Platonic idea of psyche or soul. (shrink)
‘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.
The question of what constitutions should do is deeply connected to what constitutions are. In the American founding conception, a constitution was a fundamental law, hierarchically superior to the decisions of the legislature, and intended to act as a restraint on legislative action. Despite the massive gulf between the ancient Greeks and the Americans, classical Athens offers an important lesson about how the failure to recognize fundamental laws can lead to catastrophic consequences. The evidence suggests that the Athenians understood the (...) need for conceptual, procedural, and institutional distinctions between the fundamental laws and the more specific decrees of the governing institutions. The Athenian and American experiences also suggest that certain philosophical positions conditioned their understanding of their fundamental laws, and guided the practices that followed from that understanding. (shrink)
Departing from the “Orientalist” view of the learned society in South Asia, this paper examines the role of the learned society in Southeast Asia as a site of sociability and intellectual exchange. It traces the emergence of such societies as independent, rather than official, initiatives, from nineteenth-century societies in Singapore to the Siam Society and Burma Research Society in the early twentieth century. Their journals provided pluralist interpretations of the nation, turning from grand histories of kings to new practices of (...) social history. While such societies were limited to a small circle of European and Asian literati, they also contributed to an emerging intellectual culture of libraries, public lectures, and universities. Moreover, via correspondence, travel, and exchanges of publications, such societies contributed to a growing sense of Southeast Asian regionalism, laying the institutional foundations for in-depth study for the region and the post-war emergence of Southeast Asian studies. (shrink)
This forum explores new directions in global intellectual history, engaging with the methodologies of global and transnational history to move beyond conventional territorial boundaries and master narratives. The papers focus on the period between the last decades of the nineteenth century and the first decades of the twentieth, an era in which the growth of cities, burgeoning print cultures and new transport and communications technology enabled the accelerated circulation and exchange of ideas throughout the globe. The proliferation of conferences, world (...) fairs, and international congresses, the growing professionalization and definition of academic disciplines, and the enhanced circulation of scholarly journals and correspondence enabled intellectuals around the world to converse in shared vocabularies. Much of the scholarship on early twentieth-century intellectual history in the non-Western world has been viewed through the binary relationships of metropole and colony, or as nationalist reactions to colonial domination. This cluster widens the framework to consider the way in which intellectuals formed scholarly networks and gathered multiple influences to articulate new visions of community and society within a wider world of ideas. The multiplicity of imperial and transnational pathways allowed not only for “centers of calculation” in colonial metropoles, but also for points of convergence and encounter outside Europe. As these papers show, the routes by which ideas travelled brought forth a global republic of letters, composed of diverse “centers” for the collection and production of knowledge by intellectuals operating in different parts of the world. (shrink)
The paper begins by providing a game-theoretic reconstruction of Gilbert’s (1989) philosophical critique of Lewis (1969) on the role of salience in selecting conventions. Gilbert’s insight is reformulated thus: Nash equilibrium is insufficiently powerful as a solution concept to rationalize conventions for unboundedly rational agents if conventions are solutions to the kinds of games Lewis supposes. Both refinements to NE and appeals to bounded rationality can plug this gap, but lack generality. As Binmore (this issue) argues, (...) evolutive game theory readily explains the origin of conventional behavior, but that is not Lewis’s project. Gilbert’s critique is generalized by reference to Bacharach’s (2006) work on team reasoning in games. The paper then argues that although Lewis’s account of the rationalization of conventions is shown by the reconstruction of Gilbert’s critique to be incomplete, Gilbert is wrong to conclude that classical (‘eductive’) game theory lacks the resources to explain conformity to conventions among people. A game-theoretic account of the dynamics of socialization, based on Ross’s (2005, 2006) idea of ‘game determination’, rationalizes choices of conventional strategies in overlapping generations contexts, provided agents are products of evolutionary selection and know that other players are also such products. (shrink)
The wave-mechanical treatment of the valence bond, by Walter Heitler and Fritz London, and its ensuing foundational importance in quantum chemistry has been traditionally regarded as the basis for the argument that chemistry may be theoretically reduced to physics. Modern analyses of the reductionist claim focuses on the limitations to achieving full reduction in practice because of the approximations used in modern quantum chemical methods, but neglect the historical importance of the chemical bond as a chemical entity. This paper re-examines (...) these arguments with a study of the development of the valence bond by chemist GilbertLewis within a chemically autonomous framework, and its extension by Linus Pauling using Heitler and London’s methods. Here, we see that the chemical bond is best described as a theoretical synthesis or physico-chemical entity, to represent its full interdisciplinary importance from the philosophical and historical perspectives.Keywords: Reductionism; Chemical bond; Linus Pauling; GilbertLewis; Heitler–London; Chemical. (shrink)
To comprehend the special relativity genesis, one should unfold Einstein’s activities in quantum theory first . His victory upon Lorentz’s approach can only be understood in the wider context of a general programme of unification of classical mechanics and classical electrodynamics, with relativity and quantum theory being merely its subprogrammes. Because of the lack of quantum facets in Lorentz’s theory, Einstein’s programme, which seems to surpass the Lorentz’s one, was widely accepted as soon as quantum theory became a recognized part (...) of physics. A new approach to special relativity genesis enables to broaden the bothering “Trinity” group of its creators to include Gilbert N. Lewis. Notwithstanding that the links necessarily existing between all the 1905 papers were obscured by Einstein himself due to the reasons discussed below, Lewis revealed from the very beginning the connections between special relativity and quasi-corpuscular theory of light, as he punctuated: “The consequences which one of us obtained from a simple assumption as to the mass of a beam of light, and the fundamental conservation of mass, energy and momentum, Einstein has derived from the principle of relativity and the electromagnetic theory” (Lewis G.N.& Tolman R.C. “The Principle of Relativity and Non-Newtonian Mechanics”, Philosophical Magazine, 1908). (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)
In May 1999, David Lewis sent Timothy Williamson an intriguing letter about knowledge and vagueness. This paper has a brief discussion of Lewis on evidence, and a longer discussion of a distinctive theory of vagueness Lewis puts forward in this letter, one rather different from standard forms of supervaluationism. Lewis's theory enables him to provide distinctive responses to the challenges to supervaluationism famously offered in chapter 5 of Timothy Williamson's 1994 book Vagueness. However these responses bring (...) out a number of very surprising features of Lewis's own view. -/- The letter from Lewis itself is available on the blog of The Age of Metaphysical Revolution Project, University of Manchester. (shrink)
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)
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?