I am studying Lewis and I am wondering what are the cornerstones of his philosophical perspective. In particular, I am wondering if Lewis is a naturalist like his supervisor Quine.

  • For broad questions of this sort please consult online encyclopedias, e.g. SEP David Lewis. We take more pointed questions that come up after general reading.
    – Conifold
    Commented Jul 22, 2019 at 21:12

2 Answers 2


Very interesting question. If naturalism means in part that there is no philosophy prior to science (philosophy is continuous with science) as Quine says then there are reasons to think that Lewis' philosophyical views may not be completely naturalist. I have in mind his appeal to what he calls perfectly natural properties and their role in his accounts of laws, other nomological modalities, intrinsicness, and reference. lewis' perfectly natural properties play a prominent role in his responses to Quine's skepticism regarding these notions. But perhaps one could argue that these notions are important to science and so consider perfectly natural properties as scientific posits rather than metaphysical posits. Of course, there is also Lewis' famous appeal to concrete possible worlds to make sense of metaphysical necessity. Even if this is the best way of understanding metaphysical necessity Lewis' doesn't argue that metaphysical necessity is required by science so to that extent he is being non naturalist (in Quine's sense).

  • Welcome to the SE! Your answer will be more useful to those less familiar with Lewis/Quine if you could add some references.
    – christo183
    Commented Sep 5, 2019 at 5:41

Lewis provides a lot of his overall philosophical picture in On the Plurality of Worlds, but it assumes a lot of knowledge of existing debates. I suggest looking at Daniel Nolan's "Lewis" for an overview, since Lewis was a systematic thinker. Nolan examines - among other things - the extent of Lewis's naturalism.

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