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Kinga Kowalczyk Remarks on Chapter III Convention Contrasted of David Lewis’s Conventions.

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Presentation on theme: "Kinga Kowalczyk Remarks on Chapter III Convention Contrasted of David Lewis’s Conventions."— Presentation transcript:

1 Kinga Kowalczyk Remarks on Chapter III Convention Contrasted of David Lewis’s Conventions

2 Structure: 1. Aim of Chapter III 2. Theses of Chapter III 3. Lewis's arguments 4. Topics to discuss

3 1. Aim of Chapter III to confront Lewis's conceptualization of convention, i.e. to extract similarities and divergences, with other parallel terms. Namely: 1.Agreement 2.Social Contracts 3.Norms 4.Rules 5.Conformative Behavior 6.Imitation

4 2. Theses of Chapter III 2.1. → Explicit agreement is only one of several possible origins for conventions (vide p. 86). In other words, it is not true that all conventions could originate by agreement → The concept of social contract is different in principle from Lewis’s concept of convention (vide p. 88). Extensions of these concepts do not coincide, though they overlap heavily → Convention per se is not a normative term, but it may be a type of norms (vide p. 97). That is, some regularities to which one should conform.

5 2.4. → It is certainly legitimate to named many conventions as rules. Nevertheless, not all so-called rules are conventions (p. 100) → Despite the close resemblance, there are some dissimilarities between Lewis’s convention and Shwayder’s conformative behavior (p. 107) → There is no ground for assuming that all regularity which originates or persists by some sort of mutual imitation is a convention. Lewis indicates few counterfeits. 2. Theses of Chapter III

6 3.1. Arguments for 2.1. (agreement) Background for his arguments : It is true that face to face agreement is good mean of establishing conventiont. But, Lewis’s premise is that it is necessary for preserving the essence of convention to decrease the direct inluence of this face to face agreement. Quotation: „In fact, aconvention begun by agreement may not become a convention, on my definition, until the direct influence of the agreement has had time to fade ”.

7 3.1. Arguments for 2.1. (agreement) Three examples of non-agreement originate of conventions 1.Origin by manifestation. Lewis gives an example of Hume’s rowers. 2.A kind of convention which could be destroy by explicit agreement. Lewis gives an example of politicians’s facade of hostility. 3.Origin by display of conformity to action without involving language or other conventional activity. He gives an example of establishing language.

8 3.2. Arguments for 2.2. (social contract) Conceptual background: - Definitions of both terms, i.e. social contract and convention, diverge in the nature of the general preference for general confomity (p. 90). [It is quite twisted] - Definition of the state of nature: a state in which no one is relying very heavily on any anticipated regularity in others’ action. - Lewis distinguishes two types of preferences: * narrow sense: the resultant of choice-determining forces other than a sense of duty * ordinary sense: the resultant of all enduring forces (especially moral obligation)

9 3.2. Arguments for 2.2. (social contract) Lewis presents few instances of dissimilarities between social contract and convention: 1.He established complex hypothetical construction, which enables him to conclude that social contract is not a convention when someone adopt narrow sense of preference. It is due to the fact that wider concept of preferences, which is an influence of moral obligation or sense of duty, perfectly coincides with Lewis’s notion of convention. It happens because: „[…] it is hard to see how it could become common knowledge that people would reguralry act against preference, since action against preference is inherently exceptional” (p. 93). This proposition is quite problematic. 2. Lack of an alternative. In order to have only one possible alternative, namely the state of nature, social contract is not a convention. Moreover, the state of nature is not a real alternatrive for social contract, because it need not be a coordination equilibria.

10 3.2. Arguments for 2.2. (social contract) 3. „ The items of common knowledge required in the defenition of convention are not the same as those required in the defenition of social contract” (p. 96).

11 3.3. Arguments for 2.3. (norms) Lewis describes relation between convention and norms as an one-sided strengthening; that is norms amplify persistence of conventions: „I shall argue that it [convention – K.K.] is also, by definition, a socially enforced norm: one is expected to conform, and failure to conform tends to evoke unfavorable responses from others” (p. 99).

12 3.3. Arguments for 2.3. (norms) Lewis gives some examples of the convention as a norm: - an exchange of promises→ a conforming action ought to be done to keep one’s promise - a social contract→ a conforming action ought to be done to reciprocate the benefit one get from conformity - an understanding between oligopolists→ to settle prices

13 3.4. Arguments for 2.4. (rules) Conceptual background Lewis considers so-called ruls, which means that he operates wide concept of rule. In other words, the class of phenomena which are encompassed by Lewis’s rules are very diverse. In order to analyse relationship between convention and rule Lewis ponders particular cases which are judged by him as a non-convention:

14 3.4. Arguments for 2.4. (rules) 1.Generalizations, laws of nature, mathematical truths – they are not conventions because these rule may have not nothing to do with human behavior. Humans may merely benefit by taking into account them. 2.Strategic maxims, hypothetical imperatives – people are prone to obey these rules due to practical determinants, e.g. fear for their lives. 3.Threats, warnings – sanctions embedded in this kind of rules could be so strong that one person would have a decisive reason to obey even if others did not. It is worth mentioning that one of the crucial trait of Lewis’s convention is that agent needs have some preference to concrete behavior.

15 3.5. Arguments for 2.5. (Conformative Behavior) Because of Professor suggestion I will leave this section

16 3.6. Arguments for 2.6. (imitation) Conceptual background Definition of imitation – a conformity to a regularity due to one’s interest in conforming if certain others do like this regularity. Agent acts as he/she does because he/she expects the others so to act.

17 Arguments for 2.6. (imitation) Counterfeits which were indicated by Lewis: 1.Unaware copying each other’s actions; e.g. mannerisms. This action takes place without agent’s preference, so it is not a convention. 2.Copying each other’s preferences; e.g. a coffee drinker put among tea drinkers may somehow come prefer tea. Lewis states that it is a counterfeit of convention because such regularity is result of unconditional preference.

18 Arguments for 2.6. (imitation) 3.Trusting each other’s practical judgments; e.g. wearing raincoat because other do. This is only an imitation because the preference that sustains this behavior is not conditional on others’ conforming. Recall that convention requires that our behavior should be somehow founded on expectations of others. 4. Some sort of equilibrium that sustain but it is not a coordination equilibrium; e.g. regularity realted to conflict situations. It is not the convention because in case of convention each wants to conform if the other do, and each wants the others to conform if he/she want. On the other hand, in discussed case each wants his/her opponent’s defeat.

19 4. Topics to discuss 1.Means of convention’s origin and perpetuation 2.Question of the arbitrariness of the convention 3.Which other terms should be compared with convention? 4.Expectations as a crucial aspect of convention


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