On Lewis against magic: a study of method in metaphysics
- 257 Downloads
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 (and thus branded it as ‘magical’). 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.
KeywordsLewis Magic Method
Thanks to Peter Forrest for discussion and Steffi Lewis for permission to publish an excerpt from a letter by David Lewis. I am grateful to the British Academy for a Newton International Fellowship and the John Rylands Research Institute in Manchester, UK for research support.
- Alexander, S. (1920). Space, time, and deity: The Gifford Lectures at Glasgow 1916–1918 (Vol. 1). London: Macmillan.Google Scholar
- Lewis, D. (1973). Counterfactuals. Cambridge: Harvard University Press.Google Scholar
- Lewis, D. (1976). The paradoxes of time travel. American Philosophical Quarterly, 13(2), 145–152.Google Scholar
- Lewis, D. (1986b). On the plurality of worlds. Oxford: Basil Blackwell.Google Scholar
- Lewis, D. (1991). Parts of classes. Cambridge, MA: B. Blackwell.Google Scholar
- Melia, J. (2008). Ersatz possible worlds. In T. Sider, J. Hawthorne, & D. Zimmerman (Eds.), Contemporary debates in metaphysics. Malden, MA: Blackwell.Google Scholar
- Nolan, D. (2015). It’s a kind of magic: Lewis, magic and properties. Synthese. doi: 10.1007/s11229-014-0565-4.
- Plantinga, A. (1974). The nature of necessity. Oxford: Clarendon Press.Google Scholar
- Plantinga, A. (1976). Actualism and possible worlds. Theoria, 42(1–3), 139–160.Google Scholar
- Slote, M. A. (1975). Metaphysics and essence. Oxford: Basil Blackwell.Google Scholar
- Stalnaker, R. C. (1984). Inquiry. Cambridge, MA: MIT Press.Google Scholar