Naturalness, Arbitrariness, and Serious Ontology

In Helen Beebee & A. R. J. Fisher (eds.), Perspectives on the Philosophy of David K. Lewis. Oxford: Oxford University Press. pp. 134-53 (2022)
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David Lewis is typically interpreted as a class nominalist. One consequence of class nominalism, which he embraced, is that the reduction of ordered pairs, triples, etc to unordered sets of sets is conventional. The reaction by his Australian counterparts D.M. Armstrong and Peter Forrest was that Lewis was not being ontologically serious. This chapter evaluates this debate over serious ontology. It is argued that in one sense Lewis is ontologically serious, but that his additional commitment to structuralism about classes should push him to adopt a trope-theoretic account of naturalness, which opens up another way to respond to the charge of not doing serious ontology. This conclusion is supported by certain remarks he makes in his correspondence, thus revealing how his thinking about properties appears to have evolved from property-egalitarianism to a sparse theory of tropes.

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A. R. J. Fisher
Gonzaga University


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