, Volume 166, Issue 1, pp 129-147

Defending David Lewis’s modal reduction

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Abstract

David Lewis claims that his theory of modality successfully reduces modal items to nonmodal items. This essay will clarify this claim and argue that it is true. This is largely an exercise within ‘Ludovician Polycosmology’: I hope to show that a certain intuitive resistance to the reduction and a set of related objections misunderstand the nature of the Ludovician project. But these results are of broad interest since they show that would-be reductionists have more formidable argumentative resources than is often thought. Lewis’s reduction depends on a set of methodological commitments each of which is fairly plausible or at least currently popular, and none of which is particular to modality. The choice of which of these commitments to reject I leave to the discerning antireductionist. The essay proceeds as follows: §1 discusses reduction generally and one or two relevant puzzles; §2 discusses Lewis’s reduction in particular; the longest section, §3 replies to four objections.