Convention: A Philosophical Study
May 2002, Wiley-Blackwell
Convention was immediately recognized as a major contribution to the subject and its significance has remained undiminished since its first publication in 1969. Lewis analyzes social conventions as regularities in the resolution of recurring coordination problems-situations characterized by interdependent decision processes in which common interests are at stake. Conventions are contrasted with other kinds of regularity, and conventions governing systems of communication are given special attention.
Foreword by W.V. Quine.
I. Coordination and Convention.
Sample Coordination Problems.
Analysis of Coordination Problems.
Solving Coordination Problems.
II. Convention Refined.
Knowledge of Conventions.
Alternatives to Convention.
Degrees of Convention.
Consequences of Conventions.
III. Convention Contrasted.
Meaning of Signals.
IV. Convention and Communication.
Analysis of Signaling.
Conventional Meaning of Signals.
V. Conventions of Language.
Semantics in a Possible Language.
Conventions of Truthfulness.
Semantics in a Population.
David Lewis (1941–2001) was Professor of Philosophy at Princeton University. His publications include Counterfactuals (reissued by Blackwell 2000), On the Plurality of Worlds (reissued by Blackwell, 2000), Parts of Classes (1991), and numerous articles in metaphysics and other areas. Many of his writings are available in his Collected Papers.
- Written by one of the most distinguished and influential philosophers of the 20th century
- Treats fundamental questions in the coordination of social and linguistic behavior
- A classic since its first publication in 1969
- Of central importance to philosophers, linguists, social scientists, legal theorists and anyone interested in the role of convention in the function of social behavior and language
"Readers will be indebted to the author of this book."
"The notion of convention has served philosophers since
Aristotle as a convenient exploration of the arbitrary character of
referential word meaning. In 1936 Willard Quine, pursuing the
notion of analyticity, called attention to the emptiness of this
explanation. David Lewis has attempted to re-establish the notion
of convention as a partial explanation of analytic truth [and his]
explication of "convention" is a tour de force of Humean
analysis." Philosophy and Rhetoric
"This book has been published for quite some time. Its significant contribution is no longer in question [and it will] remain a central reference for discussions on the nature of conventions. An excellent book for teaching purposes." Australasian Journal of Philosophy