•  79
    What Would Lewis Do?
    In Helen Beebee & Anthony Fisher (eds.), Perspectives on the Philosophy of David K. Lewis, Oxford University Press. forthcoming.
    David Lewis rejected consequentialism in ethics. However, two aspects of his meta-ethical views make it a challenge to see how consequentialism could be resisted. Lewis endorses a maximising conception of rationality, where to be rational is to maximise value of a certain sort; he appears to think it is possible to be both rational and moral; and yet he rejects conceptions of moral action as acting to maximise moral value. The second tension in Lewis's views arises from his meta-ethics. Lewis's …Read more
  •  234
    Hyperintensionality
    Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy. 2021.
    An overview of hyperintensionality is provided. Hyperintensional languages have expressions with meanings that are more fine-grained than necessary equivalence. That is, the expressions may necessarily co-apply and yet be distinct in meaning. Adequately accounting for theories cast in hyperintensional languages is important in the philosophy of language; the philosophy of mind; metaphysics; and elsewhere. This entry presents a number of areas in which hyperintensionality is important; a range of…Read more
  •  1502
    Marriage and its Limits
    Inquiry: An Interdisciplinary Journal of Philosophy. forthcoming.
    Marriages come in a very wide variety: if the reports of anthropologists and historians are to be believed, an extraordinarily wide variety. This includes some of the more unusual forms, including marriage to the dead; to the gods; and even to plants. This does suggest that few proposed marriage relationships would require 'redefining marriage': but on the other hand, it makes giving a general theory of marriage challenging. So one issue we should face is how accepting we should be of the report…Read more
  •  140
    Abstract Impossible fictions have lessons to teach us about linguistic representation, about mental content and concepts, and about uses of conceivability in epistemology. An adequate theory of impossible fictions may require theories of meaning that can distinguish between different impossibilities; a theory of conceptual truth that allows us to make useful sense of a variety of conceptual falsehoods; and a theory of our understanding of necessity and possibility that permits impossibilities t…Read more
  •  262
    Impossible Fictions Part I: Lessons for Fiction
    Philosophy Compass 16 (2): 1-12. 2021.
    Impossible fictions are valuable evidence both for a theory of fiction and for theories of meaning, mind and epistemology. This article focuses on what we can learn about fiction from reflecting on impossible fictions. First, different kinds of impossible fiction are considered, and the question of how much fiction is impossible is addressed. What impossible fiction contributes to our understanding of "truth in fiction" and the logic of fiction will be examined. Finally, our understanding of unr…Read more
  •  173
    It’s a kind of magic: Lewis, magic and properties
    Synthese 197 (11): 4717-4741. 2020.
    David Lewis’s arguments against magical ersatzism are notoriously puzzling. Untangling different strands in those arguments is useful for bringing out what he thought was wrong with not just one style of theory about possible worlds, but with much of the contemporary metaphysics of abstract objects. After setting out what I take Lewis’s arguments to be and how best to resist them, I consider the application of those arguments to general theories of properties and relations. The constraints Lewis…Read more
  •  292
    Imaginative Resistance and Modal Knowledge
    Res Philosophica 97 (4): 661-685. 2020.
    Readers of fictions sometimes resist taking certain kinds of claims to be true according to those fictions, even when they appear explicitly or follow from applying ordinary principles of interpretation. This "imaginative resistance" is often taken to be significant for a range of philosophical projects outside aesthetics, including giving us evidence about what is possible and what is impossible, as well as the limits of conceivability, or readers' normative commitments. I will argue that this …Read more
  •  1
    Intension and Extension
    In H. Pashler (ed.), The Encyclopedia of the Mind, Sage Publications. pp. 424-427. 2010.
  •  31
    Moral Fictionalism
    Routledge Encyclopedia of Philosophy. 2012.
    Moral fictionalism is the doctrine that the moral claims we accept should be treated as convenient fictions. One standard kind of moral fictionalism maintains that many of the moral claims we ordinarily accept are in fact false, but these claims are still useful to produce and accept, despite this falsehood. Moral fictionalists claim they can recover many of the benefits of the use of moral concepts and moral language, without the theoretical costs incurred by rivals such as moral realism or tra…Read more
  •  218
    Infinite barbarians
    Ratio 32 (3): 173-181. 2019.
    This paper discusses an infinite regress that looms behind a certain kind of historical explanation. The movement of one barbarian group is often explained by the movement of others, but those movements in turn call for an explanation. While their explanation can again be the movement of yet another group of barbarians, if this sort of explanation does not stop somewhere we are left with an infinite regress of barbarians. While that regress would be vicious, it cannot be accommodated by several …Read more
  •  261
    Intensionality and Hyperintensionality
    Routledge Encyclopedia of Philosophy. 2019.
    Routledge Encyclopedia entry on Intensionality and Hyperintensionality
  •  966
    In May 1999, David Lewis sent Timothy Williamson an intriguing letter about knowledge and vagueness. This paper has a brief discussion of Lewis on evidence, and a longer discussion of a distinctive theory of vagueness Lewis puts forward in this letter, one rather different from standard forms of supervaluationism. Lewis's theory enables him to provide distinctive responses to the challenges to supervaluationism famously offered in chapter 5 of Timothy Williamson's 1994 book Vagueness. However th…Read more
  •  116
    Are There States of Affairs? Yes
    In Elizabeth Barnes (ed.), Current Controversies in Metaphysics, Routledge Press. pp. 81-91. 2017.
    This paper makes a case that we should believe in the existence of worldly states of affairs.
  •  206
    Temporary Marriage
    In Elizabeth Brake (ed.), After Marriage: Rethinking Marital Relationships, Oxford University Press. pp. 180-203. 2015.
    Parties to a temporary marriage agree in advance that their marriage will only last for a fixed period of time unless renewed: that it will automatically expire after two years, for instance, or five, or twenty. This paper defends the claim that temporary marriages deserve state recognition. The main argument for this is an application of a principle of marriage equality. Some other arguments for are also canvassed, including an argument from religious freedom, and a number of arguments agains…Read more
  •  36
    Reflections on Routley's Ultralogic Program
    Australasian Journal of Logic 15 (2): 407-430. 2018.
    In this paper, I take up three tasks in turn. The first is to set out what Routley thought we should demand of an all-purpose universal logic, and some of his reasons for those demands. The second is to sketch Routley's own response to those demands. The third is to explore how else we could satisfy some of the theoretical demands Routley identified, if we are not to follow him in endorsing Routleyan Ultralogic as a foundational logic. As part of this third project, I articulate what seems to me…Read more
  •  274
    Liberalism and mental mediation
    Journal of Value Inquiry 38 (2): 186-202. 2004.
    Liberals agree that free speech should be protected, where speech is understood broadly to include all forms of intentional communication, including actions and pictures, not merely the spoken or written word. A surprising view about free speech in some liberal and legal circles is that communications should be protected on free-speech grounds only if the communications are mentally mediated. By “mentally mediated communication” we mean speech which communicates its message in such a way that th…Read more
  • Modality, Morality and Belief: Essays in Honour of Ruth Barcan Marcus (review)
    Philosophical Quarterly 48 (191): 253-255. 1998.
  •  149
    Reflexive fictionalisms
    Analysis 56 (1): 23-32. 1996.
    There is a class of fictionalist strategies (the reflexive fictionalisms) which appear to suffer from a common problem: the problem that the entities which are supposedly fictional turn out, by the lights of the fictionalist theory itself, to exist. The appropriate solution is to reject so-called strong fictionalism in each case: that is, to reject the variety of fictionalism which takes appeal to the domain of fictional entities to provide an explanation or analysis of the operators or predi…Read more
  •  331
    Possible Worlds Semantics
    In Gillian Russell & Delia Fara (eds.), The Routledge Companion to Philosophy of Language, Routledge Press. pp. 242-252. 2012.
    This chapter provides an introduction to possible worlds semantics in both logic and the philosophy of language, including a discussion of some of the advantages and challenges for possible worlds semantics.
  •  226
    Recombination unbound
    Philosophical Studies 84 (2-3): 239-262. 1996.
    This paper discusses the principle of recombination for possible worlds. It argues that arguments against unrestricted recombination offered by Forrest and Armstrong and by David Lewis fail, but a related argument is a challenge, and recommends that we accept an unrestricted principle of recombination and the conclusion that possible worlds form a proper class
  •  42
  •  112
    Lewis's Philosophical Method
    In B. Loewer & J. Schaffer (eds.), A Companion to Lewis, Wiley-blackwell. pp. 25-39. 2015.
    Lewis is famous as a contemporary philosophical system-builder. The most obvious way his philosophy exhibited a system was in its content: Lewis’s metaphysics, for example, provided answers to many metaphysical puzzles in an integrated way, and there are illuminating connections to be drawn between his general metaphysical views and, for example, his various views about the mind and its place in nature
  •  203
    Impossible Worlds
    Philosophy Compass 8 (4): 360-372. 2013.
    Philosophers have found postulating possible worlds to be very useful in a number of areas, including philosophy of language and mind, logic, and metaphysics. Impossible worlds are a natural extension to this use of possible worlds, and can help resolve a number of difficulties thrown up by possible‐worlds frameworks.
  •  372
    Methodological Naturalism in Metaethics
    In Tristram McPherson & David Plunkett (eds.), The Routledge Handbook of Metaethics, Routledge. pp. 659-673. 2017.
    Methodological naturalism arises as a topic in metaethics in two ways. One is the issue of whether we should be methodological naturalists when doing our moral theorising, and another is whether we should take a naturalistic approach to metaethics itself. Interestingly, these can come apart, and some naturalist programs in metaethics justify a non-scientific approach to our moral theorising. This paper discusses the range of approaches that fall under the general umbrella of methodological natur…Read more
  •  168
    Selfless Desires
    Philosophy and Phenomenological Research 73 (3): 665-679. 2006.
    Unified theories of de se attitudes and de dicto attitudes, along the lines of David Lewis’s proposal, face a problem. Whether or not they are adequate for representing beliefs, they can misrepresent the content of many of our desires, which rank possible outcomes in which the agent with the desire does not exist. These desires are shown to play a role in the rational explanation of action, and recognising them is important in our understanding of ourselves. Lewis’s account of attitudes de di…Read more
  •  256
    Classes, Worlds and Hypergunk
    The Monist 87 (3): 303-321. 2004.
    The question of what truths are necessary in the broadest possible sense is a difficult one to answer, as is the question of what the limits are to what is possible. (Most people would see these two questions as different sides of the same coin, of course, since many think the question of what is possible is just the question of what is not necessarily ruled out). We have three general sorts of strategies for determining whether something is necessary (or possible). We can identify it in a class…Read more
  •  367
    In Jenkins’s groundbreaking analysis of flirtation (Jenkins 2006), she suggests that an act is an act of flirtation if, and only if, the following two conditions are satisfied: “First, the flirter should act with the intention to raise flirter/flirtee romance and/or sex to salience, in a knowing yet playful way. Second, he or she should believe that the flirtee can respond is in some significant way”. Jenkins also draws the useful distinction between flirtation proper and “flirtatious behaviour”…Read more