Lewisian Naturalness and a new Sceptical Challenge

Matej Drobňák

DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.12775/LLP.2021.002

Abstract


The criterion of naturalness represents David Lewis’s attempt to answer some of the sceptical arguments in (meta-) semantics by comparing the naturalness of meaning candidates. Recently, the criterion has been challenged by a new sceptical argument. Williams argues that the criterion cannot rule out the candidates which are not permuted versions of an intended interpretation. He presents such a candidate – the arithmetical interpretation (a specific instantiation of The criterion of naturalness represents David Lewis’s attempt to answer some of the sceptical arguments in (meta-) semantics by comparing the naturalness of meaning candidates. Recently, the criterion has been challenged by a new sceptical argument. Williams argues that the criterion cannot rule out the candidates which are not permuted versions of an intended interpretation. He presents such a candidate – the arithmetical interpretation (a specific instantiation of Henkin’s model), and he argues that it opens up the possibility of Pythagorean worlds, i.e. the worlds similar to ours in which the arithmetical interpretation is the best candidate for a semantic theory. The aim of this paper is a) to reconsider the general conditions for the applicability of Lewis’s criterion of naturalness and b) to show that Williams’s new sceptical challenge is based on a problematic assumption that the arithmetical interpretation is independent of fundamental properties and relations. As I show, if the criterion of naturalness is applied properly, it can respond even to the new sceptical challenge.


Keywords


David Lewis; fundamental properties; meaning; metasemantics; naturalness; pythagorean worlds

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