Are there Lewis conventions?

Abstract

David Lewis famously proposed to model conventions as solutions to coordination games, where equilibrium selection is driven by precedence, or the history of play. A characteristic feature of Lewis Conventions is that they are intrinsically nonnormative. Some philosophers have argued that for this reason they miss a crucial aspect of our folk notion of convention. It is doubtful however that Lewis was merely analysing a folk concept. I illustrate how his theory can (and must) be assessed using empirical data, and argue that it does indeed miss some important aspects of real-world conventions. I conclude that whether Lewis Conventions exist or not depends on how closely they approximate real-world behaviour, and whether we have any alternative theory that does a better job at explaining the phenomena.

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Author's Profile

Francesco Guala
Università degli Studi di Milano

References found in this work

Convention: A Philosophical Study.David Kellogg Lewis - 1969 - Cambridge, MA, USA: Wiley-Blackwell.
Psychophysical and theoretical identifications.David K. Lewis - 1972 - Australasian Journal of Philosophy 50 (3):249-258.

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