Is Lewis a Meinongian?
Bernard Linsky and Edward N. Zalta
Australasian Journal of Philosophy,
69/4, December 1991, 438-453
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. Indeed, Lewis has been explicitly
linked with Meinong, a charge that he has taken great pains to deny.
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 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 explains the truth of
``there might have been talking donkeys'' by appealing to possibilia
which are talking donkeys. But the Meinongian need not accept that
there exist things which are talking donkeys. Indeed, we show
that a Meinongian even need not accept that there are
nonexistent things which are talking donkeys!
[Preprint available online in PDF]