The Quinean Roots of Lewis's Humeanism

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An odd dissensus between confident metaphysicians and neo-pragmatist anti-metaphysicians pervades early twenty-first century analytic philosophy. Each faction is convinced their side has won the day, but both are mistaken about the philosophical legacy of the twentieth century. More historical awareness is needed to overcome the current dissensus. Lewis and his possible-world system are lionised by metaphysicians; Quine's pragmatist scruples about heavy-duty metaphysics inspire anti-metaphysicians. But Lewis developed his system under the influence of his teacher Quine, inheriting from him his empiricism, his physicalism, his meta-ontology, and, I will show in this paper, also his Humeanism. Using published as well as never-before-seen unpublished sources, I will make apparent that both heavy-duty metaphysicians and neo-pragmatist anti-metaphysicians are wrong about the roles Quine and Lewis played in the development of twentieth-century philosophy. The two are much more alike than is commonly supposed, and Quine much more instrumental to the pedigree of current metaphysics.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)249-265
Number of pages16
JournalThe Monist
Issue number2
Early online date11 Apr 2017
Publication statusPublished - Apr 2017


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