Papers in Ethics and Social Philosophy
Lewis (David)
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"Lewis (David) - A Problem About Permission"

Source: Lewis - Papers in Ethics and Social Philosophy



"Lewis (David) - Academic Appointments: Why Ignore the Advantage of Being Right?"

Source: Lewis - Papers in Ethics and Social Philosophy


Philosophers Index Abstract
    Being right is a big qualification for success in the advancement of knowledge. Yet when we choose between candidates for academic appointment, we often think it improper to favor those candidates whom we take to be right about disputed questions. Why? Perhaps in conformity to a tacit treaty between adherents of rival opinions. Such a treaty might serve the advancement of knowledge according to all the rival opinions; for all may think that it is worth prolonging a stalemate in order to prevent the triumph of error.



"Lewis (David) - Buy like a MADman, Use Like a NUT"

Source: Lewis - Papers in Ethics and Social Philosophy



"Lewis (David) - Convention: Reply to Jamieson"

Source: Lewis - Papers in Ethics and Social Philosophy



"Lewis (David) - Desire As Belief"

Source: Lewis - Papers in Ethics and Social Philosophy



"Lewis (David) - Desire As Belief II"

Source: Lewis - Papers in Ethics and Social Philosophy


Philosophers Index Abstract
    An anti-Humean theory of desire could take either of two forms. It might hold that there are certain things which we desire by necessity. Or it might instead identify desires with certain beliefs--as it might be, with beliefs about what is good. In a previous article, I showed that the simplest version of the Desire as Belief theory collapsed into triviality or contradiction. In this sequel, I show that two other versions are equivalent to Desire by Necessity.



"Lewis (David) - Devil's Bargains and the Real World"

Source: Lewis - Papers in Ethics and Social Philosophy



"Lewis (David) - Dispositional Theories of Value"

Source: Lewis - Papers in Ethics and Social Philosophy


Author’s Introduction
  • Roughly, values are what we are disposed to value. Less roughly, we have this schematic definition: Something of the appropriate category is a value if and only if we would be disposed, under ideal conditions, to value it.
  • It raises five questions.
    1. What is the favourable attitude of 'valuing'?
    2. What is the 'appropriate category' of things?
    3. What conditions are 'ideal' for valuing?
    4. Who are 'we'?
    5. What is the modal status of the equivalence?
  • By answering these questions, I shall advance a version of the dispositional theory of value.
  • I begin by classifying the theory that is going to emerge.
    1. First, it is naturalistic: it advances an analytic definition of value. It is naturalistic in another sense too: it fits into a naturalistic metaphysics. It invokes only such entities and distinctions as we need to believe in anyway, and needs nothing extra before it can deliver the values. It reduces facts about value to facts about our psychology.
    2. The theory is subjective: it analyses value in terms of our attitudes. But it is not subjective in the narrower sense of implying that value is a topic on which whatever we may think is automatically true, or on which there is no truth at all. Nor does it imply that if we had been differently disposed, different things would have been values. Not quite – but it comes too close for comfort.
    3. The theory is internalist: it makes a conceptual connection between value and motivation. But it offers no guarantee that everyone must be motivated to pursue whatever is of value; still less, whatever he judges to be of value. The connection is defeasible, in more ways than one.
    4. The theory is cognitive: it allows us to seek and to gain knowledge about what is valuable. This knowledge is a posteriori knowledge of contingent matters of fact. It could in principle be gained by psychological experimentation. But it is more likely to be gained by difficult exercises of imagination, carried out perhaps in a philosopher's or a novelist's armchair.
    5. The theory is conditionally relativist: it does not exclude the possibility that there may be no such thing as value simpliciter, just value for this or that population. But it does not imply relativity, not even when taken together with what we know about the diversity of what people actually value. It leaves the question open.
  • Is it a form of realism about value? That question is hard. I leave it for the end. ….


COMMENT: Originally part of Three way Symposium: "Dispositional Theories of Value", Proceedings of the Aristotelian Society, Supplementary Volumes, Vol. 63 (1989), pp. 89-111+113-137+139-174. See also:-



"Lewis (David) - Do We Believe In Penal Substitution?"

Source: Lewis - Papers in Ethics and Social Philosophy


Philosophers Index Abstract
    If a guilty offender is justly sentenced to be punished and an innocent volunteer agrees to be punished instead, is that any reason to leave the offender unpunished? In the context of mundane criminal justice, we mostly think not. But in a religious context, some Christians do believe in penal substitution as a theory of the atonement. However, it is not just these Christians, but most of us, who are of two minds. If the punishment is an imprisonment or death, we do not believe in penal substitution. But if it's a fine, even a big fine, we mostly do.



"Lewis (David) - Evil For Freedom's Sake?"

Source: Lewis - Papers in Ethics and Social Philosophy


Philosophers Index Abstract
    The paper examines the hypothesis that God allows evil-doing for the sake of freedom. It considers some choices between versions of free-will theodicy; difficulties to which various choices lead; and possible responses to those difficulties. Debate ends, unsurprisingly, in a complicated stalemate.



"Lewis (David) - Illusory Innocence?"

Source: Lewis - Papers in Ethics and Social Philosophy



"Lewis (David) - Meaning Without Use: Reply to Hawthorne"

Source: Lewis - Papers in Ethics and Social Philosophy


Philosophers Index Abstract
    I once claimed that sentences get their meaning in virtue of conventions of truthfulness and trust. John Hawthorne says this won't work in the case of unused sentences, because the probability that these sentences will be uttered is sometimes zero. I argue that the probability will never be quite zero, but that there's a different reason why my proposal won't work for unused sentences. I then defend a method of extrapolation: truthfulness and trust give meanings for used sentences, and we may project meanings to unused sentences via rules of syntax and semantics. We must be brave in insisting on our right to use the distinction between straight' and bent' rules.



"Lewis (David) - Mill and Milquetoast"

Source: Lewis - Papers in Ethics and Social Philosophy



"Lewis (David) - Reply to McMichael"

Source: Lewis - Papers in Ethics and Social Philosophy

COMMENT: Deontic Logic



"Lewis (David) - Semantic Analyses for Dyadic Deontic Logic"

Source: Lewis - Papers in Ethics and Social Philosophy



"Lewis (David) - The Punishment That Leaves Something to Chance"

Source: Lewis - Papers in Ethics and Social Philosophy

COMMENT: Moral Luck



"Lewis (David) - The Trap's Dilemma"

Source: Lewis - Papers in Ethics and Social Philosophy



"Lewis (David) - Why Ain'cha Rich?"

Source: Lewis - Papers in Ethics and Social Philosophy


Philosophers Index Abstract
  1. Those who think it rational to take two boxes in Newcomb's problem say that their predictable failure to win millions shows not that they are making the irrational choice, but rather that the problem is one in which (predicted) irrationality is rewarded.
  2. Could there be a similar problem in which what is rewarded is (predicted) irrationality according to the one-boxer's standard of rationality?
  3. That proves to be impossible.



"Lewis (David) & Richardson (Jane S.) - Scriven on Human Unpredictability"

Source: Lewis - Papers in Ethics and Social Philosophy



Text Colour Conventions (see disclaimer)
  1. Blue: Text by me; © Theo Todman, 2019
  2. Mauve: Text by correspondent(s) or other author(s); © the author(s)



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