Is Lewis a Meinongian?
Australasian Journal of Philosophy
The views of David Lewis and the Meinongians are both often met with an incredulous stare. This is not by accident. The stunned disbelief that usually accompanies the stare is a natural first reaction to a large ontology. 1 Indeed, Lewis has been explicitly linked with Meinong, a charge that he has taken great pains to deny. 2 However, the issue is not a simple one. 'Meinongianism' is a complex set of distinctions and doctrines about existence and predication, in addition to the famously large
... the famously large ontology. While there are clearly non-Meinongian features of Lewis' views, it is our thesis that many of the characteristic elements of Meinongian metaphysics appear in Lewis' theory. Moreover, though Lewis rejects incomplete and inconsistent Meinongian objects, his ontology may exceed that of a Meinongian who doesn't accept his possibilia. Thus, Lewis ex- * Published in the Australasian Journal of Philosophy 69/4 (December 1991): 438-53. The authors would like to thank Nathan Tawil for reading and criticising an early draft of this paper. We would also like to acknowledge generous support from the Center for the Study of Language and Information at Stanford University. 1 Lewis says 'the incredulous stare' is a gesture that typically accompanies a frequently encountered argument which charges him with violating common sense. 2 W. Lycan connected Lewis with Meinong in , and then again in a different way in . Lewis explicitly attacks Meinongianism in , and even earlier dissociated himself from the view [6, pp. 97-101]. In [21, p. 189] (footnote 9), van Inwagen says 'Lycan mistakenly supposes that Lewis is a Meinongian.' Bernard Linsky and Edward N. Zalta 2 3 See the cited works of Mally, Findlay, Parsons, Castañeda, Rapaport, and Zalta. 4 In this paper, we shall not discuss in any detail the Meinongian theory proposed by Richard Sylvan (formerly Routley) in  . The reason is that his theory is not based on an extension of classical logic, unlike the other theories we discuss. His para-consistent logic manages the paradoxes of naive object theory by accepting contradictions, with the proviso that not every formula is provable from a contradiction. We shall discuss Meinongian theories that focus on the metaphysics of existence and predication rather than on ones that reject the basic laws of propositional logic.