An alternative to the Lewisian view of conventions

  • JP Smit Stellenbosch University
Keywords: conventions, Lewis, rules


Lewis (1969) characterises conventions as regularities that arise from recurrent coordination games. I argue, contra Lewis, that conventions are rules that promote a relevant goal in virtue of coordinating our behaviour. I demonstrate the virtues of this view by showing that it provides an elegant way of dealing with four basic objections to Lewis’s view, namely that Lewis requires agents to understand their own situation too well, that his view robs conventions of explanatory force, that it mischaracterises cases where someone has non-prudential reasons to follow a convention, and that it mischaracterises situations where the relevant behaviour is non-uniform.