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9 May, 2002

Lewis Correspondence

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.

 

REQUEST FOR
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
possible.

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:

Stephanie Lewis
280 Prospect Avenue
Princeton, NJ 08540
USA

Her email address is:

slewis@nerc.com

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.

Sincerely yours

Michael Smith

 

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.

Posted by Brian Weatherson at 8:57 pm

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6 May, 2002

Edinburgh

Among the many ways in which the world
could change for the better, the following two seem sort of salient to this
site. First, it could be easier to link to papers available in online journals.
I suppose if we all collectively decided to only send papers to freely
available journals like The
Philosophers Imprint
things might be a little easier in this respect.
Anyway, without this I can only tell you that among the many recent papers Iíd
recommend are Hartry Fieldís ďSaving the Truth Schema From ParadoxĒ in the
February Journal of Philosophical Logic,
and Graham Priestís critical notice of the entire Lewis oeuvre (you think Iím
kidding, donít you) in the June NoŻs.

Secondly,
it would be nice if I was competent in putting up links. I was meant to deliver
this talk in Edinburgh last week. I managed to not pack a
copy of the talk, which is a rather impressive feat of poor packing I must say.
Anyway, I wasnít particularly worried about this, because I thought I had
linked to it in the previous post. Sad to say, the link was broken, though I do
hope itís now fixed. I did get a copy of the paper back from a different source
about 2 hours before I was meant to give it, but by that stage Iíd quickly
rewritten the whole thing (sometimes it pays to be a quantity-based rather than
quality-based philosopher) and gave the rewritten version instead. I donít
think it was a complete disaster, but it would have been nice to have been a
bit more competent with postings and avoided the whole thing. I did discover
that itís more fun writing in Scottish bars than in American bars, but I think
I could have done with merely having a
priori
knowledge of that particular proposition.

Posted by Brian Weatherson at 1:32 pm

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