This was posted to A-Phil, so I guess itís
for public consumption, and hence that I can reprint it here. Itís about as
good a philosophical cause as one can imagine.
LETTERS TO AND FROM DAVID LEWIS
Last month, when I had dinner with Stephanie Lewis in Princeton, we talked at
some length about David’s willingness to write detailed letters in response to
philosophical questions from friends and colleagues. These letters were beautifully
crafted. Indeed, they often read like mini papers. Since, as time goes
by, it is likely that there will be great interest in this correspondence, it
seems a good idea to start collecting the material together as soon as
I am therefore writing to you, on Steffi’s behalf — Steffi is David’s literary
executor — to ask you to send original copies of any letters you might have
received from David over the years to her in Princeton. You should, of
course, make sure that you keep a photocopy of anything that you send. If
you would prefer not to send original copies, but would be happy to send a
photocopies, please do send those. If you have copies of the letters that
you sent to which David is replying, then please send along them at the same
time. If you have an electronic copy of letters you’ve written, and would
prefer to send these, then they can be sent as an attachment to an email, but
please mention in the text of the email that there is an attachment.
Steffi’s address in Princeton, the address to which you should send copies of
any letters you might have, is:
280 Prospect Avenue
Princeton, NJ 08540
Her email address is:
and her fax number is:
1 609 520 3849
She has asked me to reassure those of you who do send her material that she
will not circulate it further without your permission. To this end you should
make sure that you include your own contact details — postal address, email
address, and the like — so that she can more easily get in touch with you
if/when the need arises.
You will appreciate the difficulty in identifying everyone to whom David might
have sent letters over the years. If you know of people who might have
received correspondence from David beyond those to whom this email is being
sent, then perhaps you could pass this request on to them as well.
May I thank you in anticipation for any help you can give.
I only had one written exchange with David
Lewis, it was about the exchange on intrinsic properties that ended up in PPR
September 2001, and I can only concur with the sentiments about the
philosophical quality of Lewisís letters. There were several letters I heard
about (and occasionally saw) that made substantial contributions to the debate
without ever seeing the light of day. Often the effect of these would be to
close off research on hopeless, but not obviously hopeless!, research programs,
so there are mistakes waiting to be made anew if the best of the letters are
not published. Back when I worked on Keynesís theories I spent ages poring over
the correspondence surrounding the General Theory, and I imagine the value of
these letters will be, if this possible, higher even than the value of those.