The Role of Naturalness in Lewis's Theory of Meaning

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

Abstract

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.

References

T. Bays. The Problem with Charlie: Some Remarks on Putnam, Lewis and Williams. Philosophical Review 116:401–425, 2007.
http://dx.doi.org/10.1215/00318108-2007-003

J. Hawthorne. Craziness and Metasemantics. Philosophical Review 116:427–440, 2007.
http://dx.doi.org/10.1215/00318108-2007-004

R. Holton. David Lewis's Philosophy of Language. Mind and Language 18:286-295, 2003.
http://dx.doi.org/10.1111/1468-0017.00228

D. Lewis. Convention: A Philosophical Study. Cambridge, Harvard University Press, 1969.

D. Lewis. Radical Interpretation. Synthese 27:331–344, 1974.
http://dx.doi.org/10.1007/BF00484599

D. Lewis. Languages and Language. In Minnesota Studies in the Philosophy of Science, 7:3–35. Minneapolis: University of Minnesota Press, 1975.

D. Lewis. Attitudes De Dicto and De Se. Philosophical Review 88: 513–543, 1979.
http://dx.doi.org/10.2307/2184843

D. Lewis. Mad Pain and Martian Pain. In Ned Block, editor, Readings in the Philosophy of Psychology, pages 216-232. Cambridge: Harvard University Press, 1980.

D. Lewis. New Work for a Theory of Universals. Australasian Journal of Philosophy 61: 343–377, 1983.
http://dx.doi.org/10.1080/00048408312341131

D. Lewis. Putnam's Paradox. Australasian Journal of Philosophy 62: 221-236, 1984.
http://dx.doi.org/10.1080/00048408412340013

D. Lewis. On the Plurality of Worlds. Oxford: Blackwell Publishers, 1986.

D. Lewis. Meaning without Use: Reply to Hawthorne. Australasian Journal of Philosophy 70: 106-110, 1992.
http://dx.doi.org/10.1080/00048408112340093

D. Lewis.. Reduction of Mind. In Samuel Guttenplan, editor, A Companion to the Philosophy of Mind, pages 412–431. Oxford: Blackwell, 1994. Reprinted in Lewis 1999. References to reprint.

D. Lewis. Papers in Metaphysics and Epistemology. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1999.
http://dx.doi.org/10.1017/CBO9780511625343

W. Schwarz. Lewisian Meaning without Naturalness. Unpublished manuscript, 2006.

W. Schwarz. David Lewis: Metaphysik und Analyse. Paderborn: Mentis-Verlag, 2009.

T. Sider. Criteria of Personal Identity and the Limits of Conceptual Analysis. Philosophical Perspectives 15: 189–209, 2001a.

T. Sider. Four-Dimensionalism. Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2001b.
http://dx.doi.org/10.1093/019924443X.001.0001

T. Sider. Writing the Book of the World. Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2012.
PMCid:3539916

R. Stalnaker. Lewis on Intentionality. Australasian Journal of Philosophy 82: 199–212, 2004.
http://dx.doi.org/10.1080/713659796

B. Weatherson. What Good Are Counterexamples?. Philosophical Studies 115: 1-31, 2003.
http://dx.doi.org/10.1023/A:1024961917413

B. Weatherson. Vagueness as Indeterminacy. In Richard Dietz and Sebastiano Moruzzi, editors, Cuts and Clouds: Vaguenesss, its Nature and its Logic, pages 77–90. Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2010.
http://dx.doi.org/10.1093/acprof:oso/9780199570386.003.0005

J. R. G. Williams. Eligibility and Inscrutability. Philosophical Review 116: 361-399, 2007.
http://dx.doi.org/10.1215/00318108-2007-002

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
Published
2013-05-20