Philosophical Studies

, Volume 149, Issue 3, pp 327–354 | Cite as

Humility and constraints on O-language

  • Stephan Leuenberger


In “Ramseyan Humility,” David Lewis argues that we cannot know what the fundamental properties in our world are. His arguments invoke the possibility of permutations and replacements of fundamental properties. Most responses focus on Lewis’s view on the relationship between properties and roles, and on the assumptions about knowledge that he makes. I argue that no matter how the debates about knowledge and about the metaphysics of properties turn out, Lewis’s arguments are unconvincing since they rely on a highly implausible assumption about the expressive power of our language.


Humility Structuralism Combinatorialism Materialism Lewis Ramsey-sentences 



Many thanks to Paul Audi, Karen Bennett, Jeremy Butterfield, David Chalmers, Adam Elga, John Hawthorne, Marco Lopez, Paul Mainwood, Jim Pryor, Denis Robinson, Gideon Rosen, Daniel Rothschild, Jonathan Schaffer, Wolfgang Schwarz, and Brett Sherman; to audiences in Princeton, Oxford, and at the Australian National University; and to several anonymous referees. The research for this paper has been partially funded by the Swiss National Science Foundation project ‘Properties and Relations’ (100011-113688).


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media B.V. 2009

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of PhilosophyUniversity of GlasgowGlasgowUK
  2. 2.Philosophy Program, Research School of Social SciencesAustralian National UniversityCanberraAustralia

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