Lewisian Themes: The Philosophy of David K. Lewis: Introduction
Jackson (Frank) & Priest (Graham)
Source: Jackson - Lewisian Themes: The Philosophy of David K. Lewis, Introduction
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Authors Citing this Paper: Lewis (David)

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  1. On October 14th, 2001, there occurred the sad and untimely death of David Kellogg Lewis. His death deprived the philosophical community of one of the outstanding philosophers of the 20th century. As many obituaries remarked, Lewis has an undeniable place in the history of analytical philosophy. His work defines much of the current agenda in metaphysics, philosophical logic, and the philosophy of mind and language.
  2. Although stationed at Princeton for most of his working life, Lewis had a close relationship with Australasia, and particularly Australia. He had a special fondness for the 'Australian' way of doing philosophy, dating from when he attended a graduate class at Harvard given by Jack Smart in 1963. From 1971 Lewis visited Australia nearly every year. Usually based in Melbourne, he travelled widely, and was well known in every Philosophy department in Australia and New Zealand. He attended almost every annual meeting of the Australasian Association of Philosophy, where he presented what were destined to be agenda-setting papers, and was assiduous in attending papers given by others and in contributing to discussion. He also played an important role in the social life of AAP conferences. He enjoyed socialising and talking philosophy in the bar in the evenings, and liked to join in—and sometimes lead—the singing of Australian bush songs. It seemed absolutely right to honour David's memory by devoting an issue of the Australasian Association of Philosophy's journal to his work. The present volume consists of the papers for that issue of the Australasian Journal of Philosophy (Vol. 82, March 2004) together with four additional papers and an expanded introduction.
  3. We solicited a few papers on key Lewisian themes, and called for other submissions. The response was outstanding—a tribute to David. Many fine papers had to be turned down because of space constraints. The ones that appear here were chosen on the basis, not only of quality, but also balance of coverage: we wanted to cover as much Lewisian territory as possible.
  4. We will not attempt to summarize the papers in this volume. Each author has provided a short abstract of their contribution which has been placed at the head of their chapter. The papers cover many of the topics for which Lewis was well known, including possible worlds, counterpart theory, vagueness, knowledge, probability, essence, fiction, laws, conditionals, and truth. (Two topics not covered are his work on materialism, where he long championed the 'Australian' version of Jack Smart and David Armstrong, and his work on set theory and mereology.) Some of the papers are by very established philosophers; others are by younger philosophers. We think he would have approved of this spread; he was a great 'encourager' of younger scholars.
  5. One further topic is covered in the volume, the philosophy of quantum mechanics2. On his last visit to Australia, in June 2001, he gave the Jack Smart Lecture at the Australian National University, entitled 'How Many Lives has Schrodinger's Cat?' Steffi Lewis has kindly given us permission to publish it here.

In-Page Footnotes

Footnote 1: Except for the biographical section, which has been removed to David Lewis.

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