Lewis on Google Scholar

I’m (slowly) writing the entry on David Lewis for the Stanford Encyclopaedia. Here’s the tentative table of contents.

  1. Convention and Linguistic Meaning
  2. Counterfactuals
  3. Philosophy of Mind
  4. Modal Metaphysics
  5. Everything Else

The last section could do with a snappier title. But the idea is that I start with the two early books, and the papers that build directly on those books (esp “Languages and Language” and “Time’s Arrow”). Then I look at what I think of as the three big themes of Lewis’s career. These are (a) his theory of mind, (b) his reductionism about the nomic (and related topics), (c) modal realism and its consequences for metaphysics, especially modal metaphysics.

The problem is that this leaves out quite a lot. For instance, it leaves out practically everything from “Papers in Philosophical Logic” and “Papers in Ethics and Social Philosophy”. But I do think that trying to find another theme on a par with those three would amount to shoehorning material into a category in which it doesn’t quite fit. (Not that the three themes are entirely distinct.)

But that doesn’t mean I shouldn’t say anything about the rest of Lewis’s career. So I was wondering what I should focus on outside those five sections. To that end, I made a crude search on Google Scholar of which were Lewis’s most cited papers. The full results are below the fold, but the top 15 is a little surprising.

Title Citations
Counterfactuals 1688
On the Plurality of Worlds 1444
Convention: A Philosophical Study 1423
Scorekeeping in a Language Game 879
General Semantics 862
Causation 555
Adverbs of Quantification 552
New Work for a Theory of Universals 458
Elusive knowledge 384
Probabilities of Conditionals and Conditional Probabilities II 378
Attitudes de dicto and de se 377
Counterfactual Dependence and Time’s Arrow 342
Psychophysical and Theoretical Identifications 336
Counterpart Theory and Quantified Modal Logic 334
Parts of classes 314

Note that the “II” in “Probabilities of Conditionals and Conditional Probabilities” is misleading. Google Scholar thinks that the two papers with roughly this title are just one paper, and it has merged their citations together.

That the books are up top is no surprise. Books generally do much better than papers on Google Scholar. And it isn’t a surprise to some extent that older papers lead the way. They have more time to collect citations. But the showing of the language papers, and in particular the formal semantics papers, is quite stunning. I think I follow Lewis, and Lewisiania, quite a bit, and I can’t recall the last time I saw someone cite “General Semantics”, for instance. So maybe this isn’t the best measure of the importance and influence of the various works.

Full table, and methodology, below the fold.

The trick with searching for Lewis on Google Scholar is that you want to find all of his papers, but you also don’t want the millions of papers written by people called “Lewis” in. My trick was to fix author as “D Lewis”, and have a long disjunction of keywords that it was required to find one of. It’s highly likely that in doing this I’ve left out some prominent papers. The actual search is here=. I then got rid of the non-David Lewis papers, and sorted the remainder by citation count. The full table is below. I’ve cut off the list just after the end of the first page, there are several other papers with a dozen or so citations, but from here on it is very hard to separate the papers from the mis-citations.

Title Citations
Counterfactuals 1688
On the Plurality of Worlds 1444
Convention: A Philosophical Study 1423
Scorekeeping in a Language Game 879
General Semantics 862
Causation 555
Adverbs of Quantification 552
New Work for a Theory of Universals 458
Elusive knowledge 384
Probabilities of Conditionals and Conditional Probabilities II 378
Attitudes de dicto and de se 377
Counterfactual Dependence and Time’s Arrow 342
Psychophysical and Theoretical Identifications 336
Counterpart Theory and Quantified Modal Logic 334
Parts of classes 314
Subjectivist’s Guide to Objective Chance 274
How to Define Theoretical Terms 247
An Argument for the Identity Theory 213
Putnam’s paradox 212
Languages and Language 201
Truth in Fiction 194
Humean Supervenience Debugged 180
Survival and identity 167
Mad Pain and Martian Pain 163
Causal Explanation 160
Index, Context, and Content 154
Causation as Influence 135
Reduction of Mind 129
Radical interpretation 121
Causal decision theory 110
Finkish Dispositions 105
Counterfactuals and comparative possibility 99
Counterparts of Persons and Their Bodies 99
Defining’Intrinsic’ 90
The Paradoxes of Time Travel 88
Semantic Analyses for Dyadic Deontic Logic 82
Postscripts to ‘Causation’ 77
Extrinsic Properties 76
Are We Free to Break the Laws? 75
Anselm and Actuality 62
Events 61
Ordering semantics and premise semantics for counterfactuals 60
Against structural universals 59
Truthmaking and Difference-Making 56
Prisoners’ Dilemma Is a Newcomb Problem 56
Veridical Hallucination and Prosthetic Vision 51
Desire as Belief 46
Holes 43
Naming the Colours 42
Sleeping Beauty: reply to Elga 40
Tensing the Copula 36
Lewis, David: Reduction of Mind 34
Postscript to “Mad Pain and Martian Pain” 33
Noneism or Allism? 29
Intensional logics without interative axioms 29
Relevant implication 26
Things qua truthmakers 25
Analog and digital 22
Ramseyan Humility 22
Forget about the ‘correspondence theory of truth’ 21
How Many Lives Has Schrödinger’s Cat? 21
Completeness and decidability of three logics of counterfactual conditionals 1 20
Defining ‘intrinsic’ 20
What Puzzling Pierre Does Not Believe 20
Statements Partly About Observation 19
Void and Object 19
Redefining ‘Intrinsic’* 19
Meaning without use: Reply to Hawthorne 19
Armstrong on Combinatorial Possibility 19
Critical notice 14
Zimmerman and the Spinning Sphere 13
Our Experience of God 13
Immodest Inductive Methods 13
Possible-world semantics for counterfactual logics: A rejoinder 11
Why Ain’cha Rich?’‘ 10

5 Replies to “Lewis on Google Scholar”

  1. But the showing of the language papers, and in particular the formal semantics papers, is quite stunning.

    My sense is that some disciplines are wired up to Google Scholar to a far greater degree than philosophy is. Something that will be of interest to those in such disciplines will score big with Google. That’s my guess as to what’s going on here.

  2. I don’t know if it’s the result of disciplines being more or less well-represented as much as the fact that papers in semantics are (i) older and (ii) have inter-disciplinary appeal work in metaphysics and ethics simply cannot hope to match. Recently I’ve been looking at a lot of papers in theoretical linguistics, and Lewis is cited there quite a bit (as is Stalnaker as well as, to a lesser extent, Carnap and Davidson). This is followed by papers like “Causation”, “New Work”, and “Elusive Knowledge”, which do not have comparable interdisciplinary appeal, but are loci classici for certain widely discussed views and are thus frequently cited without much discussion. So the results are, in my opinion, unsurprising overall.

    As far as how I think an encyclopedia article on Lewis should be structured, your plan sounds very reasonable, especially since a lot of important and apparently stand-alone papers can easily fit into one of your five categories. For instance (to take two of my favorites), “Attitudes de dicto and de se” fits quite naturally in the philosophy of mind section, and “Dispositional Theories of Value” in the reductionism section. “Elusive Knowledge”, though written much later, builds on “Scorekeeping” and can be read as an extended treatment of some material already present in that earlier paper.

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