The Role of Naturalness in Lewis's Theory of Meaning


  • Brian Weatherson University of Michigan, Ann Arbor, and Arche, University of St Andrews



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.


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Author Biography

Brian Weatherson, University of Michigan, Ann Arbor, and Arche, University of St Andrews

Marshall M. Weinberg Professor of Philosophy, Department of Philosophy, University of Michigan